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Back in 2011, an Indian couple fought against the Norwegian authorities who took away their children reasoning ‘cultural differences’ and that they weren’t taking good care of them.
The plight of the couple’s fight against an entire system influenced director Ashima Chibber to make a movie about them.
A somewhat similar incident came to light wherein an Indian couple living in Germany lost custody of their child to German authorities in September 2021.
According to a report by India Today, two-year-old Ariha Shah was separated from her parents and was put in a foster care facility in Berlin, Germany. The authorities did so after the parents took their child, who allegedly suffered injuries on her private parts, to a hospital in Germany.
Speculating sexual abuse by the parents, the German authorities parted the child from her Indian-origin parents Bhavesh and Dhara Shah.
After they were deemed unfit to care for the child by German Child Services, the couple has been struggling for the past one and a half years to get their daughter back.
Now, the parents have appealed to PM Narendra Modi and Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar to intervene in the matter and help them.
“She’s an Indian child. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who talks about ‘beti bachao (save the girl child)’ needs to help us at this critical time. She’s our child. She needs her mother and her nurturing. I appeal with folded hands to PM Modi to help us get our child from the German child care facility,” India Today quoted Dhara Shah saying.
In midst of all this, Ariha’s father Bhavesh, who is an IT professional, lost his job. The cost of fighting for the custody of their child is so much that now he is in a lot of debt.
“I don’t even know what the future holds. I don’t have a job and the debt keeps mounting. By the time Ariha returns, the amount due would be huge,” he said.
He also alleged that while in foster care, their daughter is not being allowed to learn any Indian language. Moreover, their requests of meeting the child have also been dismissed.
“She doesn’t know about Indian festivals or Indian food or our culture. I requested the German authorities to take her out during Holi so she can see what was happening. But being in foster care, her identity as a Gujarati Jain is not being preserved and we are very concerned about this,” he said.
The parents claim that they have been proven innocent of the sexual abuse charges on them that separated them from their daughter.
“In the interest of clarification, we even gave our DNA samples. After the DNA test, police investigation, and medical reports, the case of sexual abuse was closed in February 2022. And in December 2021, an expert from the same hospital ruled out any suspicion of sexual abuse,” Zee5 quoted Dhara saying.
Despite that, the Berlin Child Care authorities are not dropping the matter and reuniting them with their daughter.
“Even the medical report suggested that there was no sexual abuse but the Berlin Child Care authorities are unnecessarily dragging the case. Usually, parents give up, frustrated with the legal tangles and long time periods. But we will not, come what may,” Dhara said.
Alleging they weren’t getting a fair trial, the couple landed in Mumbai to seek help from the Indian authorities.
We hope the couple unites with their daughter and justice sees the light of day.
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