Father MOHAMMED AL MUTAWA took off to Bahrain with his six-year-old daughter last year and never returned her, although the Filipina mother had been granted custody by a Sharia Court in Kuwait. Now Dad is in prison for ten years for some other matter, and the mom still can't get the child back from his relatives. This custody case has been a disaster for this poor mother for years, and the authorities in all the various country involved in this mess have done virtually nothing to help her. The take-no-prisoners tactics of the father and his family are very typical of abusers everywhere.
Crunch hearing for tug-of-love mum
Posted on » Tuesday, August 04, 2009
A FILIPINA mother who was granted custody of her daughter more than a year ago will plead before a court tomorrow hoping to be reunited with the six-year-old.
A Sharia Court judge granted Lecita Flores, 43, custody of Sarah in March last year, but her father allegedly failed to return her after a visit.
Since then Ms Flores has been in and out of courts in an effort to get her daughter back.
Sarah is thought to be living with her three aunts because, according to Ms Flores, her ex-
husband is now serving a 10-year jail sentence.
A lawyer acting on behalf of Ms Flores, Mohammed Al Mutawa, earlier said he had asked the Execution Court to investigate suggestions that her ex-husband was in prison, but could not confirm the claim.
Ms Flores claims the Execution Court issued an order at the beginning of last month stating that her ex-husband's family should hand Sarah over to her.
However, she alleged that an hour later the same judge issued a court order reversing the decision.
Ms Flores said the judge told her that under a new law, children could not be forced into living with a parent if they refused.
"The judge said all he could do was give a court order to the Social Development Ministry to give me visitation rights," Ms Flores told the GDN.
"They gave me two hours of visiting rights on Friday and Saturday every week.
"But when I saw my daughter, she said: 'You are not my mother'."
Ms Flores now fears that she has been apart from her daughter for so long that Sarah has turned against her.
"I last saw my daughter on July 25 for a few minutes and when we met she said: 'I don't love you'," she said.
On July 30, Ms Flores said she received a call from the Juffair Social Centre, which was overseeing visitations, and told her that she would not be able to see her daughter.
The centre reportedly told Ms Flores that her daughter refused to see her and it was not obliged to force the child.
Since then Ms Flores has been back to the Execution Court to find out how she can be reunited with her daughter.
She is now planning to return to the courts tomorrow and hopes to persuade a different judge to issue another court order demanding that Sarah's aunts return the six-year-old.
"I feel very bad, I miss my daughter," said a tearful Ms Flores yesterday.
"For a long time I didn't see my daughter. Her aunts switched her mobile off, so I can't even talk to her.
"How can the court decide on something and then reverse it an hour later?"
Ms Flores' battle to be reunited with her daughter has been in the Kuwaiti and Bahraini courts since 2004.
She first filed a case against her ex-husband in Kuwait, where the couple met and married.
The Kuwait Sharia Court granted her full custody of Sarah after her ex-husband allegedly fled to Bahrain, telling Ms Flores he had divorced her and was keeping their daughter.
When she followed him to Bahrain in November 2004, she was told she had to file a case here as the Kuwaiti ruling did not apply.
Ms Flores was first granted custody of the child during a Sharia Court hearing in March 2008, but her ex-husband refused to hand the child over - despite four court orders obliging him to do so.
He eventually did and was granted visitation rights, but allegedly failed to return Sarah after taking her out during a visit.
In July last year the Execution Court ordered Sarah be returned to Ms Flores after the girl's father was arrested for breaching his visitation rights.
However, he was freed following a Sharia Court hearing at the Justice Ministry in Manama a week later, despite refusing to reveal his daughter's whereabouts.
The judge said he was powerless to keep the girl's father locked up and told Ms Flores she would have to file another criminal case against him.
Sarah's father and his five sisters then filed a civil case against the Filipina seeking BD12,750 in damages for the emotional stress they claimed she put the family through by initiating legal action against him, but it was thrown out.
Ms Flores' ex-husband broke a court order in 2005 and fled with the child to Qatar, where he has relatives.
But he was persuaded to return several months later after being threatened with a kidnapping charge.
Juffair Social Centre officials were unavailable for comment last night.