Archive for the ‘mothers’ Category

When I read this story in The Telegraph, I felt such anguish for the mother. The story concerns a British-born woman who has been living in Qatar for 25 years. She married and had her son in Qatar, but divorced within a few years. The parents stayed on good terms, but sadly the father died. Now his family has been given custody of the son by a Sharia court. The mother has been told she is no longer her son’s legal guardian.

This is a very worrying story, and provides yet more evidence of why we should be so concerned about the use of Sharia law to settle family disputes in the UK. The mother says she was given documents to sign but didn’t know what she was signing- on the face of it, there is the argument that she should not have signed anything she did not understand. But we don’t know what sort of pressures were at play behind closed doors.

I recall earlier on this year Bridget Prentice suggested that the Government may allow disputes to be mediated by Sharia law and then drawn up in a consent order to be approved by a judge in the civil courts. But this sort of case exemplifies why this would be most unsatisfactory. Any judge who simply rubber stamps an agreement reached in the Sharia courts would not be doing their job properly. The mother may be threatened with anything from violence, blackmail or damage to her reputation. We never know what goes on behind closed doors of such close-knit families.

Caught up in all of this is a little boy who just wants to go back to live with his mother, who clearly loves him and misses him. I am pleased to see the British Embassy has got involved, and I only hope this gets sorted as soon as possible.

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The Telegraph reports on a recent survey conducted amongst women (two-thirds of which are mothers), which has found that 74% of women would support being allowed to take a 6-month ‘maternity leave’ from work, even if they are not pregnant.

Maybe I’m being thick, but wouldn’t this be overly generous to all those women out there who choose not to (or indeed can’t) have children? Maternity leave is anything but a holiday. It is a time for a mother and baby to bond, without the interferences of work to get in the way- the theory being that those first 6 months of a baby’s life are vital in its formation of relationships with its parents. In my last job paralegalling in the City, my boss went on maternity leave halfway through my one-year contract. Whenever she called me after the birth of her son, she was either exhausted from a night without any sleep, or covered in baby sick. Contrast that with 6 months of leave for a woman with no children. She is free to do whatever she likes, be it taking a course in photography or going on a trip around the world.

Of course, every woman has the right to choose whether or not to have children, and obviously some women are physically unable to have children whether they want them or not. But that does not mean they should have the same rights to paid leave as a new mother should have. In fact, to do so would be to give them an unfair advantage. 6 months maternity leave is very different from 6 months where you’re free to do whatever you like.

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