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Why we're powerless to get back abducted children

Vancouver Sun, front page, By Daphne Bramham, March 15, 2005

Murray Wood had no idea last November when he kissed 10-year-old Takara and seven-year-old Manami goodbye at Vancouver International Airport that his ex-wife was abducting them.

That doesn't mean the Richmond elementary school teacher didn't take every possible precaution to ensure that Takara and Manami were only going for a couple of weeks to see their dying grandfather.

Wood had sought and was granted sole custody nearly nine months earlier. Ayako Maniwa-Wood not only didn't contest sole custody, she didn't even bother showing up for the 2 1 /2-day trial.

The day before the children left — Nov. 26 — the B.C. Supreme Court issued an order instructing Maniwa-Wood to ensure their safe return on Dec. 9 and “not commence any application for custody, guardianship or access in any other jurisdiction other than the province of British Columbia.”

One might think — as Wood did — that even if the children were abducted, it would be a simple matter to get them back.

It isn't. Unlike Canada, Japan has never signed the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.

Japan doesn't recognize other countries' child custody orders and judges will not simply return children to their custodial parents. Instead, they order full hearings and trials.

It also doesn't recognize other judgments such as the Dec. 14 B.C. Supreme Court decision ordering the immediate return of Takara and Manami.

And Japan doesn't recognize the warrant for Maniwa-Wood's arrest on two counts of abduction.

The twist is that if Wood went to Japan and got his children to the airport, he would almost certainly be arrested and charged with abduction.

In the nearly four months since they left, Wood hasn't heard from Takara, Manami or their mother. Staff at the Canadian Embassy in Tokyo, however, met with Maniwa-Wood and she confirmed that she has no intention of sending them home.

The story is far from unique.

Every year, about 400 Canadian born children are abducted by a foreign-born parent and taken to the parent's country of birth. The numbers have remained relatively constant over the past decade, but are almost certainly going to rise along with the frequency of intermarriage between foreign-born immigrants and native-born Canadians.

And what is worrying is that the overwhelming number of immigrants to Canada come from countries that haven't signed the Hague convention.

Seven of the top 10 source countries for immigrants — China, India, South Korea, Philippines, Taiwan, Iran and Pakistan — have all refused to sign.

Murray Wood believed the best care for his two children would be to share their custody with his ex-wife. He hasn't seen them since November.

REPORT: Children Need Dads Too: Children with fathers in prison

Quakers United Nations Office
July 2009

Children are heavily impacted by parental imprisonment and greater attention should be given to their rights, needs and welfare in criminal justice policy and practice. Due to a variety of reasons such as mothers often being the primary or sole carer of children, complicated care arrangements, the likelihood of women prisoners being greater distances from home and a host of factors explored in detail in other QUNO publications, maternal imprisonment can be more damaging for children than paternal imprisonment. However, it is important not to underestimate the damage that paternal imprisonment can have on children.

Children with incarcerated fathers experience many of the same problems as those with incarcerated mothers, including coping with loss, environmental disruption, poverty, stigmatisation, health problems and all of the difficulties involved in visiting a parent in prison. It appears that there are also some difficulties specifically associated with paternal imprisonment, such as a higher risk of juvenile delinquency and strained relationships between the mother and child.

The numbers of children separated from their fathers due to imprisonment is far higher than those separated from their mothers due to the vast majority of prisoners being men (globally over 90 per cent of prisoners are male. To ignore this group would, therefore, be to neglect the vast majority of children affected by parental imprisonment.    Read More ..

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Hammering it home: Daughters need dads

USA TODAY, June 10, 2003

It's widely recognized that boys benefit from having dads around as role models and teachers about manhood.

But does having a father at home make much difference for girls?

But even in affluent families, girls become sexually active and pregnant earlier if they don't live with fathers, according to the largest and longest-term study on the problem. It was released in May.

Compared with daughters from two-parent homes, a girl is about five times more likely to have had sex by age 16 if her dad left before she was 6 and twice as likely if she stops living with her dad at 6 or older.

The study of 762 girls for 13 years took into account many factors that could lead to early sex, says Duke University psychologist Kenneth Dodge, the study's co-author. Still, there was an independent link between teenage sex and girls not living with their biological fathers.

Divorced Dads:
Shattering the Myths

Dr. Sandford L. Braver and Diane O'Connell

picture book Divorced dads: Shattering the Myths

This is the result of the largest federally funded 8 year study of the issues confronting parents and their children in the United States.

Shattering the Myths. The surprising truth about fathers, children and divorce.

Sydney Morning Herald

Children seeing more of their fathers after divorce

The Sydney Morning Herald
February 3, 2005

Divorced fathers are Read More ..volved in their children's lives than conventional wisdom would have it, a new study shows.

It shows surprisingly varied and flexible care patterns among separated families, with "every other Saturday" contact giving way to Read More ..ild-focused arrangements.

Australian Institute of Family Studies research fellow Bruce Smyth has produced the first detailed snapshot of parent-child contact after divorce anywhere in the world. Published today in the institute's journal Family Matters, the analysis has implications for children's emotional and financial wellbeing.

Other research indicates children of separated families do best when they have multifaceted relationships, including sleepovers, sharing meals and doing schoolwork, with both parents.