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HomeNews Reports3-year-old girl Ariha Shah separated from her Indian parents by German authorities: Read about...

3-year-old girl Ariha Shah separated from her Indian parents by German authorities: Read about her heartbreaking story

The family of the 3-year-old girl has alleged that the German authorities are weaning little Ariha away from her Jain roots and conditioning her to a European life, which is in stark contrast to the teachings and principles of Jainism.

On Thursday, 16th March 2023, Arindam Bagchi – the spokesperson of the External Affairs Ministry said in a press conference that the foreign secretary is dealing with the issue of the 3-year-old girl Ariha Shah who is in German child rights custody for the last one-and-half year. It is notable that the Indian parents of the 3-year-old Jain girl are struggling to get their daughter’s custody from the German government. The girl was taken into custody by the German authorities because of suspected sexual abuse.

During the press conference, Arindam Bagchi said, “It is a sensitive case. Foreign Secretary is dealing with the case. Both the embassy and foreign ministry have been in close touch with parents and German authorities to find a way forward. It includes baby-infant child and there are issues related to privacy.” The parents of the child came to India last week and urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to help in bringing their daughter back from German foster care.

Dhara Shah, mother of the kid Ariha Shah said, “In September 2021, our daughter was taken away by German child services. She accidentally hurt her private part and we took her to a doctor. The doctors sent us back saying that she was fine. Then we went for a follow-up check. My daughter was again said to be fine, but the doctors, this time, called child services and gave them my daughter’s custody. And we later learned that because of the nature of her injury, they suspected sexual abuse.”

Earlier on 25th February 2023, Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra said, “This is something of great sensitivity, something which we deeply care about, and our embassy has been in very close touch with the parents and German authorities in trying to find a way forward.”

Ariha Shah was 14 months old when German authorities took her into custody

The Shah family members have also started an online petition to gather public support to get their daughter back into custody. In this petition, the details of the ordeal are also described. According to this petition, Ariha Shah’s father was posted in Germany on a work visa as a software engineer. In September 2021, the infant Ariha Shah was accidentally hurt by his paternal grandmother. When her parents brought her to the hospital, they were charged with sexual assault and the baby was taken away.

It is said in the petition that the criminal inquiry was concluded without charges in February 2022, but Ariha Shah is still in the custody of German authorities. Berlin Child Services has filed a civil custody case to terminate the parental rights of the Shah couple. This lawsuit will take 2-3 years to complete, the petition says.

It further mentions, “The parents are fighting the case in Germany but fear that Child Services are dragging it out in order to take advantage of the “continuity principle” of child law under which if a child has spent a significant time with the state-appointed carer, it is said to be settled there and should not be shifted back to the parents, even if they are found to be fit.”

The petition also adds, “The German child services are completely insensitive to the baby’s cultural and religious identity, insisting on a meat diet for her though she comes from an observant Jain family. They say they plan to have her adopted by a German family. This is a violation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child to which both India and Germany are parties.”

Therefore, Ariha Shah’s parents are demanding that the baby Ariha Shah be repatriated to India and placed with the maternal family or a Jain family under the care and responsibility of Indian child welfare authorities. The family has alleged that the German authorities are deracinating little Ariha from her Jain roots and conditioning her to a European life, which is in stark contrast to the teachings of Jainism. It is notable that similar steps have been taken earlier in the case of Indian children in foster care in Norway, the USA, and other countries.

The mother of the kid underlines cultural differences adding to the problem

In a video appeal to PM Narendra Modi, Dhara Shah – mother of Ariha Shah – said that there are many problems related to cultural nuances that are also adding up to the problems faced by the parents in Germany. She mentioned that the Shah family hails from Gujarat but the interpreter in the hospital and the one with the German authorities is an Urdu-speaking individual. She also noted that parents feeding a toddler with their hands is considered forced feeding in the western country while it is looked at as love and care in India.

Likewise, she mentioned a few more differences between the two cultures and emphasized how the couple faced multiple problems arising from them as they faced the case. She also insisted that the authorities of the same hospital where the child was first examined have clarified that there was no sexual abuse with the child. In an emotional appeal to the Prime Minister, she urged with folded hands to bring back her daughter Ariha Shah.

She said, “We’re not getting a fair trial there (in Germany). We need to bring the child into our custody. We appeal to PM Modi to personally pay attention to this case & help bring back my daughter. A case of sexual abuse of the child was registered against us. Later, this case against us was closed & the hospital ruled out sexual abuse of the child. But still, we haven’t got Ariha’s custody.”

The external Affairs Minister raised Ariha Shah’s issue to his German counterpart

In December 2022, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar raised this issue during a discussion with his German counterpart Annalena Baerbock.

Informing about this in a joint press conference, he said, “We have concerns that the child should be in her linguistic, religious, cultural, and social environment. This is her right. And our embassy is pursuing the matter with German authorities, but it was also a subject which I had brought up with the minister.”

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staff
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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