A Muslim father has been denied any contact with his six year-old son for two years, the Family Court has ruled.
The boy, ‘A’, and his three siblings were removed from their parents’ care after the father was convicted of assault against A and the mother was convicted of neglect. The local authority placed the children in separate foster homes and one of them was subsequently adopted.
The local authority applied for permission to prevent the father from seeing A in person.
A child psychologist who assessed the boy described several “behavioural and other difficulties” as a result of “early childhood developmental trauma or neglect”. His report supported the local authority’s application, as he said that A had made “significant progress” with his foster family and that “his parents [had] been instrumental in creating distress and fear” before he was taken into care.
Meanwhile, A’s father applied to the Family Court for an injunction which would require the local authority to place his son with a Muslim foster family and arrange for him to be circumcised.
He claimed that the local authority had not taken sufficient steps to safeguard the boy’s “religious and cultural heritage”. Sitting at the Family Court in Wrexham, His Honour Gareth Jones noted that A’s female foster carer had a Master’s degree in Religious Studies and was therefore “particularly attuned” to the child’s cultural needs.
The judge added that the foster carers had taken advice from a local mosque, made sure there was a Qu’ran in the house along with Islamic teaching materials, and had met the child’s dietary requirements by ensuring his food was Halal. They had also attended the local mosque several times and ensured that his school took his background and heritage into account.
Turning to the issue of circumcision, the father presented a letter from an imam which said that “all males are expected to be circumcised” and listed several apparent health benefits of the procedure. Judge Jones declared that the imam’s claims had “not been supported by any expert medical evidence favouring this procedure”. He ruled that requiring the boy to be circumcised could “hinder his developmental progress and behavioural improvement more generally” as it could be interpreted as a violation of the trust he has built up with his foster carers.
The judge said he would not make either injunction the father had requested. He also granted the local authority permission to refuse in-person contact between the father and A for two years. However, he ordered that provisions be made for indirect contact, such as letters.
To read the full judgment, click here.
Photo by Rudy Herman via Flickr