When Parental Mental Illness Makes You Lose Your Child

It seems quite reasonable to have children removed from dangerous circumstances, which have been attributed to parental mental illness. Numerous studies have revealed that such an environment can correlate to child abuse and neglect. It hinges on the premise that a parent who isn’t mentally stable enough to look after himself or herself, may exhibit outrageous and harmful tendencies that could impact negatively on their child.

And while in a lot of cases this may certainly be the case, in other instances, children are being taken away from secure homes based on an unfair rationale that goes under the banner of “parental mental illness”.

Angelo Clement spoke candidly to the Guardian about his horrific experience of being the latter.

“I was removed from a safe environment at home with my mom where I wasn’t abused or neglected to a situation where I was very much unsafe,” said Clement.

It all began one night when Clement was 14-years-old and received a phone call from a teacher whilst he was home alone. Following this, the teacher made a report to the authorities, which claimed that Clement was being neglected by his mother.

The days and weeks that followed descended into hell for Clement and his mother. When the investigation was finally concluded, no evidence was found to indicate that any abuse had occurred. The case was, however, taken to court where it was argued that his mother, who had a past history of bipolar disorder, was not mentally fit to have Clement in her custody.

Within a short space of time, Clement’s entire world unravelled before his eyes; he was snatched from his happy home, and placed into a foster care system that caused a lot of psychological and emotional trauma. As soon as he turned 18-years-old, Clement signed himself out of the foster care system.

A watchdog report revealed that the Administration of Children’s Services had misused and breached policies in family courts, and wrongfully removed children from their families in many similar cases such as Clement’s.

The harrowing reality is that some states view parental mental illness such as anxiety or depression, as a reason to take a child away. As a result, more and more parents avoid seeking out the mental health services that they may need, due to their worry that it may spell a visit from social services.

I knew a girl who, after giving birth to her first child, battled through postnatal depression. As a young and single mother, there was no doubt that she felt an insurmountable amount of pressure to be the best mother that she could be.

When I asked her why she did not want to seek out help for her postnatal depression or ask for further assistance in any area that she was struggling in, she said simply:

“I can’t risk social services thinking that I might even have a day where I feel sad or overwhelmed. They have the authority to turn up at my house and take my baby away–and it would mean that I would love everything.”

It may appear ludicrous that women in her position are unable to get the support that they need from a government whom they have paid taxes to–taxes which should be redistributed back to them in such times. Yet, her concerns were not completely unfounded.

Healthy Place states that custody loss rates for parental mental illness range as high as 70-80 per cent, and a higher proportion of parents with serious mental illnesses lose custody of their children than parents without mental illness.

International Criminal Court Against Child Kidnapping
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Child Rape In India On The Rise

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Child Rape In India On The Rise

By J.S. von Dacre

Investigative Journalist of the International Criminal Court against Child Kidnapping

The face of eight-year-old AsifaBano is plastered on newspapers all across the world. An umbrella of lashes frames her big, dark eyes as she stares back at the viewer, in a haunting gaze that demands to know how her life could be so tragically and heinously cut short.

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No words could encapsulate the sheer terror, agony, and despair this little girl must have felt in the last moments of her life. Any hope she had for a loved one to rescue her, was snuffed out–swiftly and callously, like a candle blown out in the coldest of winds.

Asifa was kidnapped and held in a temple for many days where she was gang-raped, tortured and finally, killed. She was then strangled before a rock was used to bludgeon her head. It is alleged that one of the police officers involved in the crime, pleaded to be able to rape her one more time before she died.

Sanji Ram, a 60-year-old retired government official, believed to be the leader of the gang, his son, Vishal, his nephew, his friend, and a minor, have been accused of Asifa’s rape and murder.

Also implicated are police officers SurenderVerma, AnandDutta, Tilak Raj and Mr. Khajuria, who all allegedly helped to plan the schoolgirl’s abduction from the Kashmiri meadows where she was tending to her horses on that fateful day that she was taken.

It is believed that the motivation for the ruthless act was to force the Gujjars, a nomadic Muslim community of shepherds to which Asifa belonged, out of Jammu. The divide between the two religious sides–Hindus and Muslims, has long been fuelled by a bitter feud.

Mohammed YousufPujwala, Asifa’s adoptive father said, “She played with all the children…She didn’t know the difference between a Muslim and a Hindu. She was only 8 years old.

“Now every moment I feel her absence. Everything reminds me of her–her clothes, her place at the table, the horses.”

When Asifa disappeared on 10 January, her family knew something was wrong when her horses returned without her. They immediately launched a search for her through the long night with lanterns, flashlights, and axes. When they came up empty-handed, they filed a complaint with the police. Yet, according to her parents, the officers were unhelpful, with one even suggesting that the eight-year-old had eloped with a boy.

Speaking to the BBC, Asifa’s mother, Naseema, described the moment she saw her daughter’s crumpled body, “She had been tortured. Her legs were broken…Her nails had turned black and there were blue and red marks on her arm and fingers.”

Hundreds of thousands of protesters have spilled raucously on streets all across India to demand justice.

Yet, these protests continue to be a recurring theme while rapes in India keep increasing. The number of registered rape cases in Mumbai alone rose by 40 per cent in 2017 when compared to 2016. Out of that figure, almost 60 per cent were minor girls.

In the past week, the body of an unidentified eleven-year-old girl was discovered on the side of a road in Surat. She was tortured, raped and murdered; her body was marked with over 80 injuries, some of which covered her genitals.

Miles away in Kotwali Nagar, Uttar Pradesh, a seven-year-old girl’s body was found. While her parents were distracted with preparations for a wedding, the child was kidnapped, raped, murdered and then discarded on a dusty roadside–far away from her family and a justice system that continues to fail others like her.

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