Malaysian Hindu woman wins custody battle with Muslim husband

March 11th, 2010 - 4:45 pm ICT by IANS  

Kuala Lumpur, March 11 (DPA) Malaysia’s High Court Thursday granted a Hindu woman custody of her child after a bitter court battle with her estranged Muslim husband, who converted their children to Islam and then took possession of them.
Kindergarten teacher Indira Gandhi, 35, was given custody of her 22-month-old toddler by the high court in the northern state of Perak, which ruled that the child be handed back to her mother immediately.

Gandhi’s husband embraced Islam in March 2009 without her knowledge and in April had allegedly taken their three children’s birth certificates to convert them to become Muslims.

The estranged couple then began a bitter custody battle for the children.

Gandhi’s two older children, 13 and 12, were earlier ordered to be returned to her, leaving only her youngest child in the custody of her husband.

“I hope he will return my baby to me as soon as possible,” Gandhi was quoted by the Star newspaper as saying shortly after the court decision.

Gandhi, who is an ethnic Indian, is also appealing to quash the conversion of all three children.

Because of the case, mainly Muslim Malaysia announced last year that it would ban the forced conversion of children to Islam.

Islam is the official religion in Malaysia, but non-Muslims are allowed to practise their faiths.

There had been growing unease among Malaysia’s mainly Chinese and Indian ethnic minorities who are mostly Buddhists, Christians and Hindus over numerous complaints of discrimination by the authorities when seeking legal redress after divorce and religious conversions.

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