Create Child Friendly Waiting Rooms in Delhi Courts for Welfare of Children #HappyTrials
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Clutching my hand tightly, my daughter stepped into the tiny room with a wall painted with cartoons, a rack with 3 stuff toys and a black board with no chalks.
There are another 10-12 children in the room, along with the custodial and non-custodial parents, who are often yelling and accusing each other in front of the children. A lady is seated at the centre of the room, merely observing the chaos of the unfriendly and stuffy room.
This was my 6-year-old daughter and my first encounter with the ‘Children’s Room’ at the Family Court when my husband was granted access to visitation rights.
My husband filed for Custody and Guardianship of our daughter at the Tis Hazari Court in March 2018.
These ‘Children’s Room’ are a meeting area of approximately 12ft. X 12ft., specially designed for the visitation of the non-custodial parents. I cannot deny the visitation as my husband has an equal right to meet our daughter. What leaves me feeling helpless for my daughter is seeing the scenario of the courts and the children room.
That one hour neither the child nor the non-custodial parent is able to utilise to the maximum. Children struggle both emotionally and psychologically, and are often not able to express what they feel.
Courts are stressful not only for the parents but mentally exhausting for the children as well. The Family Courts were set up as a concept where the parents going through the trial of separation or divorce, seeks custody of the child. But do we really care about it or are we putting our child’s happiness at stake?
"Visitation” (not “Parenting Time”) orders are usually for a period of 4 – 6 hours access per month and that too within court premises. Child Visitation rooms are 400 – 500 sq feet rooms wherein 25 – 35 children along with their custodial & non-custodial parents are packed in for the short duration every weekend.
A separate area for visitation will avoid the child coming to the courts. Visitation shall be treated like a special outing for the child. The Family Courts are working against the concept of ‘Child Welfare’ rather it is more psychologically challenging for them.
This is why I am asking the Delhi High Court and Ministry of Women and Child Development to create child-friendly recreational rooms to allocate a different space outside the court to avoid child’s direct contact with the court and help in better welfare of the children.
In 2017, full-time Judge Vandana Tendulkar adopted a new concept of recreational rooms for POCSO cases keeping in mind the concept of ‘Child-Friendly Court-Room’ in Goa. The rooms are painted with the bright colours and the space is filled with the toys. The child doesn’t have to witness the real court case and the space is friendly keeping in mind the after-effects on the child.
We can adopt the same concept and create different spaces for the children coming for the Visitation.
Sign my petition and join me asking in asking Minister of Women and Child Development and Delhi High Court to create separate waiting rooms for the non-Custodial parents - a friendly space and environment for the child to have a leisure time with the other parent.
The battle is to protect the integrity of the Act and to continually innovate with practices keeping in mind the welfare of the child. I believe this petition will help our children face the challenge with a foundation for a stronger future and support of both the parents.
Let’s give our children a #HappyTrial and make this as easy an experience for them.
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