International Parental Child Abductions – What is it? Why you should care?
Most societies recognize crimes against children, however lines are blurred when a crime is committed by a parent or a family member, instead of a stranger.
International parental child abduction (“IPCA”), is the illegal removal of children from their home by a “taking” parent to a foreign country. The “taking” parent is either violating existing custodial order or custodial rights of the other parent (children are taken without the other parent’s consent), and wrongfully retained in a foreign country.
- IPCA is child abuse and a crime against childrens, perpetrated by a parent, not a stranger;
- Children are deprived of the love and affection of the parent left behind, often subjected to sustained mental manipulation to believe the parent left behind is the cause of their problems, and robbed of their sense of security, leading to parental alienation and other consequences;
- Taking parent resorts to “forum shopping” to thwart laws of the child’s home country. Cases often take years to resolve, victimized children and families often suffer emotion, psychological and financial trauma.
Victims often struggle to get the support they need from law enforcement, government officials and society at large, who fail to recognize IPCA as a crime. In the United States and most western countries, Governments have enacted laws against parental child abductions. India has not, as such children abducted to India are rarely returned.
IPCA and India:
According to Department of State’s 2017 report on Parental Child Abductions, there are 101 active child abduction cases with India ( This number reflects only those cases that were registered with Department of State, however, actual numbers are higher.
The following factors make IPCA even more dire with respect to India making getting the abducted child impossible.
- India is not a signatory to Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, 1980, treaty. This means, once a child is abducted to India, there is no legal framework for its return which leads to the next issue.
- India does not recognize parental child abduction as a crime, leaving the parent left behind to fight it as a custody battle in courts in India and the home country. The problem is exasperated by the fact that courts in India do not recognize US custody orders necessarily.