Woman wins right to take daughter to Peshawar
A woman who claims her five-year-old daughter will be better off living in a Pakistan city where Taliban gunmen killed 130 children at a school than in Southampton has won a family court fight.
The 40-year-old, who comes from Pakistan, had asked a judge to allow her to take the girl from their home in the Hampshire city and move to Peshawar, where her family have lived for many years.
Her ex-husband, who is also from Pakistan, had objected. He said his daughter would not be safe in Peshawar and he listed "terrorist bombs and attacks" that had occurred in the area.
But Mr Justice Baker has ruled in favour of the woman after analysing the case at a family court hearing in London.
He said he had come to the "clear conclusion" that the youngster's welfare would be "best served overall" if her mother was allowed to take her to Peshawar.
Details of the case emerged in a written ruling by the judge.
He said the family involved could not be identified.
Mr Justice Baker said the couple had married in Pakistan in 2009 and moved to the UK later that year.
They separated and divorced in 2013.
The judge said the woman was living with the girl in rented accommodation in Southampton.
He said she had painted a "somewhat bleak picture" of her life in England.
She said she was dependent on welfare benefits, plus some financial support from her ex-husband.
She had "little support in this country" following the breakdown of her marriage, with no family or "real friends" in the region and was "lonely" and at times depressed.
The judge said the woman had contrasted life in Southampton to her prospects in Peshawar.
She said her family's home in Peshawar is a four-bedroomed property in a modern suburb of the city.
She aimed to work in the family's beautician business and thought she could earn more than £1,000 a month.
She also said there were "very good schools" in Peshawar.
In December 2014, Taliban gunmen stormed a military-run school in Peshawar and killed 132 children and nine staff.
But the woman argued the area would not be "generally unsafe" for her or the girl.
She insisted she would never put her daughter "at risk of harm".
She had also accepted that Peshawar was "more conservative" than some other Pakistani cities.
But she said despite "greater restrictions", it was possible for women to thrive.
The man, whose family lived in west London, wanted the little girl to stay in England.
He said there was evidence of "political instability and terrorist activity" in Pakistan and said the little girl "would not be safe".
He said she would also be at risk of kidnapping.
He said women were treated as "second class citizens" in Pakistan and it was "not a suitable society" for her.
But Mr Justice Baker granted the woman's application.
"Having carried out a thorough analysis of all the options individually and comparatively, I have reached a clear conclusion that (the little girl's) welfare will be best served overall by an order permitting her mother to remove her from England to live in Peshawar," said the judge.
"Her welfare will be better served living with the mother in Pakistan where the mother can resume her career and live with the support of her family.
"I regard it as an advantage for (her) to be able to live with her mother's community where she will come to a better understanding of her cultural heritage.
"I do not regard it as a significant disadvantage for her to move to a society where women are by western standards treated differently.
"This court respects cultural diversity and acknowledges that there are different views as to how society should be organised and how children should be brought up.
"The mother comes from that community herself and I do not regard it as in any sense harmful for (the little girl) to move there."
He added: "I have considered carefully the evidence about the risk of political terrorism and kidnapping but conclude that there is no significant risk to (the little girl) as a result of these activities.
"It is a factor to be placed in the scales but ultimately not one which carries significant weight."