In the news at the moment the Family Division of the High Court ruled last week that the mother of a British baby boy was deliberately stranded in Pakistan by her husband and his relatives.
The child now lives with his father and family in the north of England. The court was told that the father had grown bored of his wife after two years of marriage and and wanted to keep the son. Mrs Justice Hogg urged the Home Office to allow the mother, Aqila, now 20 years old, back into the country after she was drugged and flown to Pakistan and left outside her parents home, without any documents. Aqila does not speak English.
This was apparently following a row between the spouses. The husband obtained divorce papers from a priest within 48 hours of the row. He also claims he sent her passport, ID card, and divorce papers to the British High Commission. They were never seen.
The baby boy was two months old and Aqila alleged that from the start of the marriage the mother had been bullied by the father and his relatives. In turn the father alleges that Aqila was very demanding and unreasonable.
In her judgment, Mrs Justice Mary Hogg said:
I do not accept that the grandfather knew nothing about it. He was fully aware that the marriage was failing and deeply involved in the plan to take her there and leave her stranded from her baby. Grandmother was aware of the plan, too… This was a callous way of behaving towards a new young mother and her very young baby. This is sadly not the first case of deliberate separation of a mother from her child. This is emotionally harmful to the child… it is abhorrent. It is selfish and cruel behaviour by those who do it.”
The Foreign & Commonwealth Office was aware of this case, as was the UK Border Agency and the British High Commission. It was most unfortunate that she was not given permission to come in for this hearing… I make an urgent plea to the immigration authorities that this mother is able to enter this country for the purpose of the welfare hearing.
The court was told that Aqila needed to be let into the country to attend a welfare hearing about her son, but the UK authorities had been unwilling to let Aqila in.
Aqila came to live in England on a spousal visa, valid until December 2010. She and her husband, who was her legal sponsor, needed to fulfil certain immigration procedures for her to stay here indefinitely. Aqila has a new Pakistani passport but the British High Commission has refused to supply her with a duplicate spousal visa which would allow her to fight this case in person.
The UK Border Agency commented in response to Mrs Justice Hogg:
We will consider the judge’s comments in this case. Anyone with a child custody case before the UK courts can apply to enter the country for the hearing.
The solicitor acting for Aqila has dealt with over 50 cases and has highlighted a hidden abuse of overseas women who marry UK men. It is hoped the ruling will help these women.