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Cross-Border Child Abduction On The Rise


By J.S. von Dacre

Investigative Journalist of the International Criminal Court against Child Kidnapping



In an age where cosmopolitan is vogue, our society has become a melting pot of cultures. Heavily influenced by the wanderlust movement, romances blossom on an international platform. Many of those relationships stand firm against the test of time, but for those not as fortunate, separation can sometimes leave bitterness–especially in the cases of cross-border child abduction.


Cross-border child abduction happens when a parent takes their child from the country of the child’s usual residence to live in a different country, without the consent of the other parent. It has become more commonplace with transnational partnerships where after a separation, one of the partners wants to return to his or her country of origin.


The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction is a treaty that was designed to protect the rights of children, and under its legislation, cross-border child abduction is considered to be an illegal act. Where such instances occur, it demands the prompt return of the child.

Despite this sanction, it has become notoriously difficult to recover offspring when cross-border child abduction does occur.


Parents, who are left behind, find themselves hard pressed against a bureaucracy that leads to dead ends. Appeals to foreign courts are often wrought with legal jurisdiction likely to side with the abducting parent.


One such parent, Alison Shalaby, found this out when her ex-husband took their 7-year-old British daughter to Egypt. Shalaby would later discover that Egyptian law considered her child to be Egyptian after just one week of being there.

In an interview with The Huffington Post she said:

"Whoever I contacted in the country said she was not British. That I was asking them to extradite one of their own. She's seven-and-a-half, she's been in the country a week, but they said she was Egyptian."

The misery does not, however, end there if the child is sent back to their normal country of residence. The lengthy and rambling legal processes can have a dire impact on all involved.


Unfortunately, the one who ultimately suffers the most in these cases of cross-border child abduction is the child. The ramifications of having to start a new life, in a culture that is completely alien and possibly having to learn a new language–away from familiar family and friends, can be quite overwhelming and distressing for a young person. 


A report by the US Department Of Justice stated:

“Existing research on the trauma suffered by children who have experienced parental abduction clearly shows that a long period of separation from the left behind parent is particularly damaging. Agopian’s study (1984) found that the length of separation from the left behind parent greatly influenced the emotional impact of the abduction experience on the abducted child. Generally, children held for shorter periods (less than a few weeks) did not give up the hope of being reunited with the other parent and consequently did not develop an intense loyalty to the abducting parent. In some ways, they were able to view the experience as a type of “adventure.”

“Victims of long-term abductions, however, fared much worse. They were often deceived by the abducting parent and moved frequently to avoid being located. This nomadic, unstable lifestyle made it difficult for the children to make friends and settle into school (if they attended school at all). Over time, younger children could not easily remember the left-behind parent, and this had serious repercussions when they were reunited. Older children felt angry and confused by the behavior of both parents—the abductors for keeping them away and the left behind parents for failing to rescue them.”

To learn more about the crime of parental child kidnapping and the help available to “left behind” parents, please contact the International Criminal Court against Child Kidnapping.



Summary: Cross-border child abduction 

The victims of child & Human rights violation, if not getting timely and suitable justice in the court of law in their countries, can appeal to the INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT AGAINST CHILD KIDNAPPING.

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