Saturday, July 11, 2009

Kidnap As an Instrument of Punishment

Recently it has become notorious the case on which a Brazilian woman, Bruna Bianchi Carneiro Ribeiro, who lived and was married in New Jersey, kidnaps her child and takes him to Brazil (, forcing the father to engage in an intense international legal fight to recover his child. Thanks to this sad case, there is now a public discussion of the great problem of parental kidnapping.

Although there are international laws against parental kidnapping, these are poorly enforced and frequently manipulated for the convenience of the kidnapping parent, who usually takes the child to his/her country of origin. Ironically, in the above quoted case, Bruna remarried in Brazil, this time with an attorney specialized in family law, who has even spoken at The Hague on the issue of parental kidnapping. Bruna dies and is this attorney who has stopped the child of being reunited with his father. Human nature never ceases to be perverse.

I also say that we should use this opportunity to discuss the negative effect that the physical distance between separated parents has on the children and on the bond between them and their parents, specially with their fathers. I say this, because in very few states (I only know the case of Pennsylvania) there are laws that stop that a parent with joint custody could leave the state where he/she lives, putting this way distance between the children and the other parent.

Kidnapping their children is a tactic that many women use once they loose the custody of their children to their father. And moving out, sometimes thousands of miles away, is a strategy frequently used by mothers once joint custody is awarded to the father of their children. What is the difference between kidnapping children and taking them to where it will be impossible for them to stay in contact with their fathers?

In the movie Jarhead, there is a scene on which the soldiers, already in a camp in the desert, put something like a wall of shame, on which they put pictures of the women that that have betrayed them. One of the pictures show a women with a child, with the words: “I loved her and she took my kid and disappeared.”

Next time your ex-spouse tells you the she will take your children where you cannot see them, do not ignore her. Maybe it is not a threat. Maybe it is a plan.

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