https://mobile.abc.net.au/news/2016-05-23/what-happens-to-children-involved-in-parental-abductions/7438058

 

Parental abductions: 70 per cent of children suffer significant mental health effects, report finds

BY TRACY BOWDEN AND JODIE NOYCE

Hannah Engdahl.JPG
PHOTO

Hannah Engdahl (l) with her mother Melissa (c) and sister, Cedar (r)

The fallout from the 60 Minutes child recovery saga in Lebanon last month has highlighted the consequences of parental abduction, but little is known about the impact on the children involved.

The most comprehensive study into the long-term effects of international child abduction found more than 70 per cent of the children involved reported suffering significant effects on their mental health.

British researcher and family law specialist Dr Marilyn Freeman conducted the study which was released last year.

She found children who had been abducted spoke repeatedly about their confusion, feelings of shame, self-hate, loneliness and insecurity.

The study concluded more must be done to protect children from parental abduction and its effects.

‘It was like something was taken from me’

Gaudi Rubio-Thorne would be the first to admit what happened to him more than 35 years ago had an enormous impact.

Gaudi Rubio-Thorne.JPG

PHOTO Gaudi Rubio-Thorne (with mother Kayleen Thorne) was taken to Spain by his father 35 years ago.

“It’s definitely influenced the way I think, the way I view the world, the way I interact with others,” he told 7.30.

In 1979, he was just a toddler, living in Launceston with his mother after his parents had separated, but just before Christmas, his Spanish-born father did not return him home after a day out.

His distraught mother, Kayleen Thorne, received a call the next morning.

“He was already in Spain. He said ,’Gaudi’s with me. He’s fine. We’re staying in Spain’,” Ms Thorne said.

She sprang into action. With a 60 Minutes crew along to film the operation, she raced to Spain to retrieve her child, well aware of the possible consequences.

“We would have been in jail, we would have been arrested immediately,” she said.

“We were frightened, but it’s something you do, it’s your mother instinct.”

Guadi and Kayleen

PHOTO Gaudi as a child, with his mother, Kayleen

Gaudi was successfully returned to his home in Tasmania, but says those events shaped his life.

“I had a lot of anger, especially in my teens,” he told 7.30.

“Substance abuse, definite abandonment issues. I love my mother very much but I take it out on her, take it out on my partners.

“Even though I was taken, it was like there was something that was taken from me.”

He describes his relationship with his father as broken.

“I’ve seen him three or four times when I was growing up, and when I was 17, I went to Spain and spent three or four months with him,” Gaudi said.

“But he wasn’t used to being a father and I wasn’t used to having one.”

‘It really is a lose-lose situation’

Hannah Engdahl is 15 and lives in Canada, but 10 years ago, she and younger sister Cedar were abducted by their father at the end of a three-week holiday with his family in Australia.

Hannah Engdahl and parents.JPG

PHOTO Hannah Engdahl (c) as a toddler, with her mother and father

“It was the day after they were to return,” mother Melissa Engdahl explains.

“I got a call letting me know they wouldn’t be returning and that they had gone to the Middle East.”

Melissa Engdahl took legal action in three different countries to try to bring her daughters home, and eventually hired a team of ex-soldiers and went to retrieve them herself.

Hannah’s father now lives on the other side of the world and for legal reasons cannot come to visit them in Canada.

She misses having him around on a day-to-day basis.

“He wasn’t here for my school plays when I was in elementary school and he’s not here now and he probably won’t be here for my graduation, so I am missing out on really having him here and present in my life,” Hannah said.

“It really is a lose-lose situation when somebody parentally abducts,” her mother, Melissa, added.

“I think there is a lot of guilt for myself, just guilt that I can’t do more to have him more involved in their lives.”

 

http://childcentre.info/public/PROTECT/Research_report_web_1.12.14_R.pdf

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-japan-children-separation/in-japan-foreign-parents-lead-charge-against-child-abduction-idUSKBN1ZF13V

 

In Japan, foreign parents lead charge against child ‘abduction’

TOKYO (Reuters) – A growing number of foreigners in Japan are speaking out against what they say is a little-known but entrenched system that allows one parent in a broken relationship to take away the children and block the other from visiting them.

The issue of what media in Japan and overseas call parental child “abduction” has regained international attention recently, particularly in Europe where documentaries have been made about European fathers whose children were taken by their Japanese wives.

Japan’s judicial system has drawn global attention with the lengthy detention – and subsequent fleeing – of former auto executive Carlos Ghosn in what critics have characterized as a “hostage justice” system.

Australian Scott McIntyre was the latest foreigner to raise his voice against the estrangement of separated parents from their children in Japan.

McIntyre was detained for 1-1/2 months in Tokyo for trespassing when he went to his in-laws’ apartment to seek information on his two children. He remains married, has no restraining order against him, retains full parental rights, but has not been able to see his children since May, when his wife left with them.

“Sitting here today, I don’t know if my children are alive or dead,” McIntyre told a news conference on Thursday, a day after he received a six-month suspended sentence.

He said he had made numerous requests to the police and his wife’s lawyers – the two are going through a divorce mediation – to let him know whether the children are safe, but that those were ignored.

The wife’s legal representative, Jun Kajita, said he could not go into specifics but there were some facts that were “not consistent” in McIntyre’s claims.

“This is only going to change when Japanese parents speak out as well,” McIntyre said, adding that he had received many letters of support from local parents suffering the same plight. “Children should have access to both parents – it’s a fundamental human right.”

No official statistics exist on how widespread the issue is. But non-profit organization Kizuna Child-Parent Reunion estimates that roughly 150,000 children lose contact with a parent every year in Japan because of estrangement from the non-custodial parent.

Although divorce is increasingly common in Japan – about one in three marriages end in one – it’s still stigmatized, and Japanese society generally accepts the alienation of the non-custodial parent, largely because there is no joint-custody system after divorce.

COMMON PATTERN

Many parents say there is a pattern to the problem: one day, your spouse leaves with the children; you go to the police asking for help; they refuse, saying it’s a “family matter”. In some cases, a domestic violence claim is made against you, accepted as fact and never investigated. Your children’s school can also shut you out because the wishes of the co-habiting parent – usually the mother – are uncontested.

Justice ministry officials have said in parliament that the abduction of a child by a parent is a crime, but that individual cases were up to the family courts to deliberate.

Asked about the legality of one parent taking away a child without the other’s consent, a Tokyo Metropolitan Police spokesman said the agency “could not state in general whether it was illegal.”

He said police could also not say in general whether they needed to respond to an estranged parent’s request to investigate an alleged abduction of the children.

“For anyone outside Japan, it’s a crazy system,” said opposition lawmaker Seiichi Kushida, who has been fighting for a joint-custody system in parliament.

The plight of such parents last year prompted French President Emmanuel Macron and Italian Prime Giuseppe Conte to raise their concerns with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Some Japanese and foreign parents have collectively launched a complaint to the United Nations’ human rights body.

“It’s heartening to see all the attention foreign parents are bringing to this issue,” said Kenjiro Hara, director at non-profit activist group Convention on the Rights of the Child Japan.

“It’s thanks to them that more Japanese people feel emboldened to take action,” he said, noting that several class-action lawsuits have been filed against the government seeking legislation to help reunite parents with their children.

Reporting by Chang-Ran Kim; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan