B R Srinivas, who works at a private firm in the city, has not met his 14-year-old son since August.
On International Parental Alienation Awareness Day, which was observed on Friday, Srinivas narrated to Express how he has been unable to meet his son despite the Supreme Court granting him visitation rights.
After 12 years of legal battle, the apex court has ordered a stay on a directive granting Srinivas custody of his son. He has been given permission to visit his son during weekends, but he said his wife doesn’t permit him to do so. Even if she does, she insists that the meetings take place in public places like restaurants.
Meanwhile, his wife Vinaya said she has received multiple threats from Srinivas over the custody battle. “He told me that if I wanted a divorce, I would have to give him my son.” She said the legal struggle has affected her son and his privacy.
Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) is the result of conflicted family dynamics and forces the child to take the side of either the mother or father. In Bangalore alone, there are over 20,000 parental custody and visitation cases pending before the family courts, said Kumar Jahgirdar of the city-based NGO Child Rights Initiative for Shared Parenting (CRISP).
He said children exposed to such dysfunctional family settings are highly prone to suicidal tendencies, drop out of school and use drugs.
Dr Savio Pereira, Associate Superintendent at St John’s Medical College and Hospital, said irrespective of the nature of the case, women almost always get custody of the child.
CRISP members said India should emulate countries like Australia, Canada, England, Germany, South Africa and the United States in holding annual awareness programmes on April 25.
They said parental alienation should be declared as a crime equivalent to child abuse and asked the Karnataka State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (KSCPCR) to look into such complaints. They also sought active participation from the Ministry of Women and Child Development.