Malaysian mother’s battle sparks reform against ‘child snatching’ cases

Source: FMT News

The proposed reforms seek to outlaw conversion by one parent, which advocates say will safeguard a mother's equal access to custody rights and quell unease among religious minorities. Pic from FMT News.

The proposed reforms seek to outlaw conversion by one parent, which advocates say will safeguard a mother’s equal access to custody rights and quell unease among religious minorities. Pic from FMT News.

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian kindergarten teacher Indira Gandhi last saw her infant daughter in 2009 before her estranged husband snatched the 11-month-old away after an argument.

“I thought he would return in one or two days with (her). I never thought this was going to happen, I was devastated,” the 41-year-old said.

Indira is one of several women whose husbands converted to Islam in Muslim-majority Malaysia, before secretly converting their children and then applying for custody of them in an Islamic court.

As a Hindu, Indira is unable to challenge his bid in the Islamic court because she is not a Muslim.

Now the Malaysian parliament, spurred by her case, is considering legislative reforms to stop such cases of secret conversion, sometimes dubbed “child snatching”.

Campaigners say it is a strategy mostly used by husbands seeking an upper hand in custody battles. Read more