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The ‘invisible’ problem of parental child abduction

A child rights activist has called for a push to treat parental child abduction as a serious crime

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James Nayagam of the Suriana Welfare Society said there was currently a lack of awareness of the seriousness of the issue, and offences were often treated as civil cases.

He said authorities would rarely intervene, considering such cases as family matters.

“They think it is not worth the effort. In all my 40 years of work with hundreds of cases, never have I come across one where the authorities stepped in and the case was solved,” he told FMT.

“It’s an invisible problem.”

FMT spoke to a divorced Dutch national who has not seen his children for months. As far as he knows, they are somewhere in Indonesia with his former wife.

After the two divorced in 2019, they took turns to care for their 11-year-old son and eight-year-old daughter under joint custody while living in Kuala Lumpur.

But upon his return from an emergency trip to the Netherlands early this year, Adrian (not his real name) was barred from meeting his children and was unable to contact them. Two months later, he was told his former wife had travelled out of the country.

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