By Khalid Hasnain
LAHORE: Farzana is banking on technology to secure the custody of her four-year-old daughter from her in-laws.
She believes that a DNA test will prove that Fareeha is her daughter and alleges the papers that show her brother-in-law Hasan as the father of the child have been faked. Fareeha was given into the custody of Hasan, brother of Farzana’s husband and a lawyer, on the order of a court which refused to entertain a plea for a DNA test to ascertain parenthood of the childhood.
Farzana, 30, lives in a middle-class Lahore locality with her brother, a government servant. She was married more than a decade ago to Shameem who later contracted a second marriage without divorcing his first wife.
It is the usual story about family intrigues and a man who was initially supportive of his wife gradually brought around to obeying the dictates of his brothers and sisters-in-law. The old angle of a woman guilty of giving birth to three daughters and her inability to produce a son is thrown in for good measure. As the events have followed an all too familiar course, her husband has since remarried and has got from his second wife the male heir that Farzana was unable to provide her with.
The culmination of it all is that in August 2008 Farzana was kicked out of the joint-family-house she had been living in since her marriage. Her eldest was only five at the time and the youngest was only a few months’ old. Fareeha, the one in the middle, was around two at the time.
Her throwing out was a serious enough situation for the police to intervene. She was rescued and her brother, Asim, managed to use the clout of some prominent people that he knew to secure for her the custody of her three daughters.
Happy to have her young children back, Farzana was rattled by the arrival of a court bailiff at her new abode some time later.
The official asked her to appear in a court and took Fareeha away.
Another shock greeted her in the court as she heard Hasan, her husband’s brother, claim under oath that Fareeha was actually his daughter.
He supported his case with Nadra documents that Farzana says had been faked and could have been proven to be so had the judge ruled favourably to her demand for a DNA test.
“Hasan is married and has four sons,” Farzana says as she offers her explanation of what may possibly have motivated Hasan’s move to have Fareeha. “He wanted a girl and a girl who with the right age gap with his sons, so that if it came to that, he could prove that she was his daughter. Of my three daughters, Fareeha best fulfilled the criteria.”
But couldn’t someone she accuses of fraud, fake the date of birth of the child? Farzana has no ready answer to the question. All she wants is a fairly conducted DNA test which to her mind will make all other evidence, real or faked, superfluous.
Denied by the lower court, Farzana did move a higher court but after many hearings her plea for a DNA test was rejected once more. She plans to file a suit in the guardian court soon.
Hasan, who has the custody of Fareeha at the moment, insistently tells Dawn the girl is his daughter and that her real name is Chand Bibi. “I have no objection to a DNA test, provided a court orders one,” he says.
Waseem Sindhu, a lawyer, says besides moving the guardian court, Farzana can move an application in the civil court requesting a DNA test.
A guardian civil judge confirms the importance of DNA testing in deciding complicated cases such as this one. He tells Dawn the DNA test is the most credible evidence to prove biological relationship. “There is a precedent where the courts have ordered for DNA test,” he says.