“Many of the cases we receive in Foundchild come from the East, especially they consult us on possible marriages between Muslim and non-Muslim people. We know that, until there is a convention or a universal law protecting and accompanying children born from intercultural marriages, those families are at risk starting from the lack of relation between the Muslim Law and International Law.
We also know that, in spite of that risk, there are marriages trying to live together. There is still a long way to go, reuniting and inter-relating.
A multicultural family is that where each of its members lives and relates to each other freely and without subjection, a relation born and sustained in the cultural and religious origin of each of them
A multicultural family is that where no member renounced to his/her origin and the bread put on the table is the bread of both of them.
A multicultural family is that who walks along the center of the road, each taking its sides, thus delivering magnificence to their children so that they become world citizens, integrating in their own being the whole planet and in them, everybody, starting with their parents and their families, though they come from a different origin.
‘Do you think this is possible?’ – We are on the way though there is still a long way while we learn how to engage with each other.”
Gabriela Arias Uriburu
MARRIAGES BETWEEN SWISS AND MUSLIM SPOUSES. Knowing and preventing conflicts
By Sami ALDEEB. Translated by Carolina Sandra Monzon
Marriage is a special contract executed between two individuals decided to take one common road, in principle, for the whole life; it is not just a private law contract. The spouses’ declaration before the official of the Civil Registry gives birth, by virtue of the law, of a legal institution that obeys its own rules and gets out of control of the spouses’ free arrangement.
Every marriage includes its set of problems, no matter the spouses’ nationality or religion. In order to avoid these difficulties, it is vital that the spouses-to-be are well informed before getting married so that:
- They clearly know which their respective rights and obligations are
- Freely undertake said rights and obligations well informed and in good faith.
The duty of being informed in view of a free acceptance of the other is essential for the couple, but it is more difficult, when both future spouses belong to two different cultures. Therefore, it is important that they take the time necessary to think individually, together and with someone, they trust so that they reach to a common agreement before getting married.
Certainly, a stay of the Swiss spouse in the other’s spouse country before marrying can be very useful and even recommended; but, legal issues and local customs are not easily noticed often, especially when the language and the laws are not known and when, additionally, one is in love. Therefore, the purpose of this text is, call the attention of future spouses on certain judicial rules and social customs that may be found among Muslim people, which differ from those known in Switzerland.
This text may also assist the Civil Registry officials to guide people who want to contract a similar marriage, therefore, they can give them this text just as a piece of information before carrying out marriage formalities.
For more information, visit www.sami-aldeeb.com
Sami ALDEEB ABU-SAHLIEN
Christian, Arab, of Palestine origin and Swiss nationality. Graduated and PhD in Law at Fribourg University. He graduated in Politics at the Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva. He is responsible of Muslim and Arab Law at the Swiss Institute of Compared Law in Lausanne since 1980. Invited Professor in the School of Aix in Provence and Palermo. He is the author of numerous works and articles.
Story of the Abduction of Three Multicultural Children
The Spanish mothers were the ones who advised me and made me aware that I had to fight for my children from my land: “… Gabriela, don’t move from Argentina because once you enter Jordan nobody will be able to help you; you won’t be able to get out from there.” They had already suffered their children’s abduction. Their stories were heart-rending. When their children disappeared, their lives started being in constant danger due to threats; some of them, for fear, abandoned the struggle. I could not hear these stories… I felt I was going mad. I thought in my children and how they were… Some of these mothers never again had news from their children.
Oh, God!!! I could not believe what was happening to me.
I could not think about counter-abducting them or wait until they grew up… they were so small! Karim, 5 years old; Zahira was going to be 4 and Sharif was a year and 8 months.
What to do?
Where to go?
Who could help us?
In Europe and the U.S.A, the parental abductions occur since a long time ago. The public opinion, the Press and the non-governmental organizations divulge them. They started understanding that globalization between people is, even today, unprotected.
In contradistinction to Europe, in America very few cases were divulged and, at judicial and social levels, they were treated as “a problem between particular persons,” a problem between parents.
With this discouraging prospect and my life destroyed, I started giving the first steps in a new road for childhood, which I would then call “the struggle for my children.”
In 1998, in the middle of despair and disappearance I soaked myself with laws and treaties. The abduction stories came to me every day obliging myself to search for the basis in Philosophy and Anthropology. All the research work made until that moment talked about parents but… what about the children? I was worried about my children!
Culturally and judicially, abduction cases are treated as a formal issue: to whom will custody be granted.
While experts spoke about custody, I explained that it was not a problem of custody: Karim, Zahira and Sharif, from one day to the other, where removed from their environment: their mother had been abducted; their land had disappeared for them as well as their pillow, their toys, their friends, their food… their language. Their socio-affective and geographical environment had been abducted to them. However, above all, they stopped counting on the totality of their valid referrals from which they build their identity and autonomy: their mom, their dad, their family.
I suffered so much for not having news from them, for not being able to hug them, for not being able to tell them, through my caresses, how much I loved them. The bond issue became my leitmotiv for my struggle that propelled me for the building of a new road.
I struggled from a new paradigm: the bonds paradigm.
Are parents the ones who need the child, or is the child the one who needs the parents?
The story is completely different when tragedy is listened from the children’s point of view.
Which is the authority that should help them to protect their whole life, when parents threat the children’s integrity defending their rights of being father or mother? At which point do they stop seeing the child as their child and start seeing them as “a booty”?
Who protects the children?
I found the answers to these questions in the Convention of the Child’s Rights. The Convention says that the STATES should keep vigil, protect and guarantee the children’s lives in the world. The State is the one who has the authority to help my children and every child that undergoes a parental abduction; and this is the reason why the children are a State issue. The Convention had been signed for almost every country in the world.
This is how I started a paradoxical and emblematic road. Now, I had to move the State while slowly the voices that used to say “… and you, how come you married a Muslim being so beautiful? He must still be in love with you… Engage a commando and bring them, the children belong to the mother” started silencing.
I used to answer: “… children should have a dad and a mom; they should recover the family in their mother; their integrity. They should grow in contact with both parents, with both cultures and religions.
I arrived to the State hand in hand with the Press and the public opinion. I had to make that my children’s story became the struggle story of each Argentine. My three years of Journalism in Guatemala helped me so that the Press was a valid and efficient companion. Menem and De La Rua (both, former Presidents in my country) received me and, quite slowly, the State started functioning to restore my three children’s rights.
With the new abduction cases and my personal devotion to study this “new world phenomenon holding hands with globalization: the parental abduction” I started with an interdisciplinary work joining the legal, psycho-spiritual and social aspects which took me to meet people who today are my personal friends and my advisory team: Judge Carlos Romano and Psychologist Victoria Biraben. Parallel to this, we founded “United Children for the World” Foundation (Foundchild), the only foundation in Latin America devoted to parental abduction but the first in the world to approach issue of restoration and re-bonding THE FAMILY WITH THE CHILD AS PRIMORDIAL PERSON.
My presence at International Organizations and in the Summit Meetings of Leaders caused the growth of my figure and even more when the analysis of the parental abduction started being considered from the boy or girl’s point of view and their family bonds. This obliged the governments and their diplomacy to change the parental abduction vision; before, they used to go from international private law to international law.
What Argentina obtained in my children’s case was that Jordan answered the State’s claims with inviting me to travel and visit the children. On December 13, 1998, a year after the abduction, the Hashemite Kingdom said: “We enable the mother to see the children…” as if that was the only problem. To think about working between the States for the bond restoration while they studied which creative way the issue was solved, was crazy. Along these 8 years, eight visits were possible.
During the first 6 years, the modality of the visits was as if I had to visit three prisoners. Once settled in Jordan, the Shaban’s went to fetched me and took me to an unknown place to see my children. With this macabre scenario, I had to swim in my soul in order to empower our meetings strengthening in few hours my children’s emotions and help them to face everything that was coming to us and creating the BOND AT DISTANCE.
It took time to the States to understand what they should do for my children. Little by little, the Arias Uriburu’s case, in my voice, settled as a symbolic case at a world level. Karim, Zahira and Sharif made me become a new revolutionary mother, in this issue that children should keep contact with both parents no matter that said parents decide the contrary being the STATE THE FAMILY’S CUSTODIAN.
It is in the family where the child has the possibility of growing and be formed to become a WHOLE HUMAN BEING; but the State did not have the instruments to enforce these issues for children; so, the Foundation, with its team, created unpublished documents for Childhood:
An International Court of Family: ready to mediate for the children so that they keep contact with their parents although they live in different countries.
Terra Infantia: a natural space devoted to childhood. An integration and encounter environment protected from those traumatic conflictive elements that arise in situations such as for example, the confrontation of the problem of the children’s abduction by one of their parents.
The Bilateral Agreements among the States for family re-bonding.
FOUNDCHILD’S Scientific Department: From the Referential Framework, the Scientific Dept. gave light to the “Infancy Principle”: Every child, from its wholeness and potentiality can go beyond what occurred to his/her parents. The Gestalt Theory says that the child is more than the sum of its parts.
These documents are revolutionary instruments that transform the world’s social and judicial order to protect the future multicultural society that is being born from the planetary integration. It is in the global context where the States should be the guarantors to restore the children’s rights. This documentation is in the hands of the Argentine government.
Five years after the abduction, I made that, somebody who I never imagined – “a transition government” – understood how to manage my children’s case at a State level as it was explained before. Thanks to President Duhalde’s attitude, and that of his Minister of Foreign Affairs Ruckauf, an opening was achieved at an official level between the Royal House and the Argentine Government House enabling Judge Romano’s negotiations who was then appointed as Presidential Emissary and ‘ad honorem’ Ambassador for State issues related to childhood, and who wrote, among other things: “The numerous presentations and actions before the Summit Meetings and International Organizations transforms the ARIAS URIBURU’S CASE as a leading case of this world problem. Thanks to it, today the minors’ abduction in one of the priority issues in the American leaders’ agendas.
To that moment, the following was pending:
- In the particular case: to arbitrate immediately to obtain the contact between the children and their mother;
- Assume Gabriela’s exemplary situation universalizing her circumstance;
- From the “State Issue” stated at a national level, create laws in the future inviting Jordan, Guatemala and the world to prevent and guide giving a quick solution;
- Raise our voices a lead the case: the encounter and, a “never again.”
A solution was diagramed through a Bilateral Agreement, general for all childhood and exemplifying. It was a creation made by the Special Ambassador and confirmed through the dialogue with his friend, the Supreme Judge of the Hashemite Kingdom and King Abdulah II’s Spiritual Advisor, Shaik Tamimi; and, with his action, today it also joins in the effort made by our State helping me to enable the two last encounters which I had with my children in Jordan (February and August 2004; January and August 2005); together with a special invitation to Shaik Tamimi to visit our country. Said visit become definite in March 2005. His agenda had, as main axis the dedication to the inter-religious encounter, the construction of a bridge between the cultures, long conversations with his friend Judge Romano, full of spiritual and legal kinship. His Excellency pointed out the Islam’s position, not as opposed or reason to defense in this history but as the home who also welcomes me and gives me warmth, to such an extent that he prefaced my second book: “Jordania, la travesía en busca de mis hijos” (“Jordan, the Journey to Fetch My Kids”), published by Atlantida and honored the launching of said book with his presence.
The last thing Jordan officially says has to do with the conscientious study of the Argentine project “THE BILATERAL AGREEMENT” and the inclusion of various nations that request it so.
My soul felt tired. There were too many hearings explaining to the different leaders the change it should be made in my children’s case and the action force that should be generated by the Presidents to restore nothing more important than the bond of the girls and boys abducted by their parents.
The Argentine President in those days did not continue with the State policy and left me alone for the rest of the trip. The Bilateral Agreement that would bring a solution to all those children in the world remained in the drawers of Jordan and Argentine officials.
In August 2005, under the Islamic Court’s protection, we arrived to “an agreement.” Imad – urged to dialogue by the Supreme Judge – and I, making Karim, Zahira and Sharif’s superior interest prevail, we got divorced producing a greater confidence during the visits and contact. Once every judicial proceeding is closed, the father shall be responsible for the payment of the two annual trips to Amman.
The visits started to be fluid and open as well as the contact through telephone and Internet.
Those years were very difficult as the case was considered “State issue” and then, that State abandoned it, I was obliged to redraft my road and continue it at a personal level, becoming myself my own Head of State and my own Minister of Foreign Affairs, carrying out the love for my children policy by myself.
The same happened to the Foundation, which stopped receiving the State subsidy and we had to be aware of what was happening so as not to close the door, and continue working with the team from the Web, helping the children in the world. implementing a new working method. We kept our purpose and mission forward.
There were few hearts before such a struggle. We are still a FEW and with a LOT made by great wills. With no support whatsoever, we decided to continue. Thus, Foundchild’s team and I continued working online, implementing a new working method. We kept our purpose and mission forward.
Karim, Zahira and Sharif’s story summon us to protect and prevent thousands of children that are born from a mixed or multi-cultural matrimony that will multiply more and more every time through Internet and the world migratory movement that carry us to the unavoidable world interrelation among the different societies, cultures and religions.
I take back again some words of Attorney Romano to finish:
“…When the Law or the legal system are not sufficient due to cultural divergences and pursuant to non-related sovereignties, it arises, due to legal obligation of Articles nine, eleven and thirty five of the Convention on the Child’s Rights, an order in the governments of the subscribing States to remedy the abduction situations, respecting the minors’ superior interest – who are considered at present as subjects of rights. Due to this, what it could be a family issue between private persons under a scope protected by the action of the law, is, nevertheless, a State issue when the law does not give an answer. The absence of legal cooperation spaces on human rights that the States would have had as object at the moment of subscribing, requires being responsible during negotiation. Therefore, the strategy is to consider the child as person in the family heart, and not be satisfied for the mere enunciation. There, were the law is insufficient, the States duty is being born. It is necessary to generate as the ‘silences’ of a music stave, asepsis places for childhood in neutral land and a Law legislated in world that is becoming every time more dangerous for the child’s psychophysical and spiritual integrity. Maybe, in the conclusion of the Arias Uriburu’s case, behind this memorandum, the beginning of another story starts: a story of hope for childhood; a story where the children relate to individuals through the obligations acquired by said individuals, and with the States by reason of being subjects of rights declared by such individuals and they must execute…”
Gabriela Arias Uriburu
Karim, Zahira and Sharif’s Mother
Founder of the United Children for the World Foundation
Author of “¡Help! I want my children.” Planeta 1988.
Author of “Jordan, the journey to fetch my children” Atlántida 2005.
- Mahmoody, Beety: “Por amor a un niño” (“For the love of a kid”), Emece Publishing House, 1993.
- Laylle Meyer, Catherine: “Two children behind a Wall,” Arrow, 1997.
- Heymans, Patsy: “Secuestrados” (“Abducted”) Fixot Publishing House, 1995.
- Pascarl-Gillespie, Jacqueline: “Once I was a Princess” Pan Macmillan Publishing, 1995.
The phenomenon – commonly known as “abduction” of a child by one of the parents – or failing that, “contact impediment”, has in the child the basic meaning that calls the need to reconsider in relation to judicial philosophy.
If we consider it from the orthodox point of view of the crime, the mistake of only listening to the parent who unlawfully takes or withholds as author, and the other as victim is jeopardized and we escape to the priority that childhood has.
Watching it from the civil crime point of view, we fear to privilege the restitution remedy motivated as if a child were a “thing.”
Nevertheless, let us agree, the child is not only a person with rights but also the reason of our future. As the child is not a thing and the one who suffers most that any other party the devastation of the fact, the child is then the one who determines a different treatment to this issue, therefore necessarily operative rather than leading. A system that is more supported in the child’s rights rather than in those of his/her parents.
This is the reason why, we envisaged this bilateral agreement project among the different States, capable of being attached to Multilateral Agreements for those nations that ratified them, and possible for those other nations that do not have international legal cooperation spaces by virtue of different Law systems, assisted by a process capable of including different cultural point of views and paradigms.
We think about something of operative nature for childhood, we protect the respect to childhood’s superior interest and we keep vigil for the family nucleus in its dynamics, which is equivalent to the idea of “bonding immediately”, “restoring bonds”; and this means to give shelter, hospitality, sustain integrity as an injunction or as prior and special pronouncement.
We identify in the project the need that experts participate and mediate from an authority situation, interdisciplinary work and negotiation rapidity. We include the possibility of identifying the States as partner of a composing work, with no possible conflicts inwardly, and we privilege a greater leadership of the country where the children were found as an inescapable detail of reality.
We aim, joining cultures, that this be the road to an International Court committed in its proceeding rather than in decisive acts on one issue: the family issue, which characteristic is marked by the dynamics of mutation and has a seal in the children’s life attitude.
We believe that the following are essential items:
- To privilege the bonding as essence of the process.
- To transcend the alternative of the distant parents and any cultural or legal divergence in the States involved.
- To guarantee a work with the family as a harmonic and of possible relational behavior factor.
- To admit, in the mediating ambit, a negotiation level destined to final agreements.
Acts as a spirit of the project I have designed, to envisage that the Nations should produce in favor of the children the following:
Differentiated times that mean a “stop aggression”, “suspension of terms.”
Neutral spaces through different States involved, or establishing in the own territory “neutral zones” by means of the legislative resource.
Innovative attitudes that mean the capacity of formulating alternative patterns to the traditional ones in matters of conflicts solution.
Such as an ambit for the negotiation of agreements to RESTORE THE CHILD’S INTEGRAL BOND, transitionally forgetting matters of substance or preventive remedies.
It is not a question of defining guardianship or custody, or visitation rights; it is a program for the conciliation and the parental bond.
Attorney Carlos Romano
Three Opening Questions:
Did Karim, Zahira and Sharif have time, and at least a minimal preparation to traverse the emotional storm to which they were subjected?
Did those responsible for their abduction consider that the equilibrium of these children’s intimate world included the daily figure of their mother attending and loving them?
Is there a sufficient healthy reason to rip up from night to day three children from their mother, as they are in a period that the mother’s presence is fundamental?
Speaking of children is speaking of the beginning of life, of the hope that still has not been worn out or adulterated, of everything to be done and with everything to do.
Speaking of abduction is speaking of taking possession and retaining a person. Abduction is a crime.
Therefore, the abduction of a child, no matter the supposedly attenuating reasons the abductor has, it is an abduction of life in its beginning, abduction of hope, of a criminal act committed on that everything to do and with what to do that is the child.
As we know, every confrontation between parents incites, in different degree, anxiety and destabilization in the child. It is inevitable that the separation of the parental couple “hits” and shakes the infantile world in every dimension. If confrontation and separation mean disturbance of existence, let us imagine what abduction may cause in a child’s psyche.
Mental health characterizes, among many other features, what Psychologist Adler calls as community feeling. This means the interest showed by the fellow’s issues as well as treatment and cooperation in equal terms.
The possibilities for the development of this feeling are in every child’s soul. What is fundamental for this is, above all, the relationship with the mother who is the first “you” with whom the child builds the social bond. This bond should be such that the child may experiment, in exemplary fashion, the other person as reliable and awakens his/her interest toward the others.
In an abduction situation, probably, due to a lack of preparation, this child grows “as in an enemy country.” The result would have to be found in terms of potential problems for the accomplishment and harmony of the psychosocial development. The terms “enemy country” may be taken as a metaphor of that loneliness dimension, fracture and helplessness that, at least during the first moments, if not at every moment, the child who is abducted suffers. The fact that the abductor is one of the parents does not annul what was enunciated previously; the anguish and breakdown experienced becomes part of the child’s existential baggage. In spite of everything that from the environment is offered to calm down his/her sorrow, or fill gaps, the child who has been unexpectedly and traumatically separated from one of his parents, lives “with the ground cracked under his/her feet.”
The previous text introduces a minimum frame to which we can refer to Karim, Zahira and Sharif’s story.
Making comments on their situation without making aware continuously what underlies deep in their psyches means a lack of responsibility and capacity to approach and proceed with a conflict that, undoubtedly, has reached the paradigmatic category.
In relation to the scanty visits that Gabriela could make to her children, it is important to make clear that the videos taken in each trip reveal information that cannot be ignored; they “should be watched.”
Gabriela’s children are obliged to see their mother in a scenographic montage, which demonstrates that “her presence is dangerous and they are the ones in danger.” Smiles and attitudes that lack spontaneity by adults, games and, at one side, vigilant and silent, the figure of an assistant who is auditing. The presence of armed guards outside the house brings the idea of “somebody’s possible death.”
This situation causes a psychological stress on the mother as well as the children. Regarding the children, in the same manner, the possibility of psychological manipulation should be considered.
This, added to the war risk existing in the Middle East, externally reinforces the interior trauma the three children undergo. This is an element, which, necessarily, should be valid as an indicator of the seriousness of the analyzed situation.
It is the moment to start thinking, and invite Jordan to do so as well, that we don’t have any right to continue manipulating the psychic health of three children who, though their father think they should be with him and not with the mother, they have the right to live protected from adults’ confrontations that should not include them and, not only they do so, but also they imply them.
Though lived privately, there are situations that belong to the States’ responsibility. In this case, the States as well as Karim, Zahira and Sharif’s parents should come to an agreement to end a conflict that has taken almost ten years from these three children’s lives. As regards the mother, I can assure she has always been willing to do so and she is still willing to reach to an agreement.
Psychologist Victoria Biraben