Top: When parents sue their children for support


Illustration of an elderly man and woman holding money, and their son

Abu Taher says his son was all the time a “good child”.

For years, Mr Taher ran a small clothes store in Chittagong, Bangladesh. He retired with little cash and have become reliant on his son and daughter for monetary assist.

“My spouse and I needed to undergo numerous hardship to lift our son,” Mr Taher says. “However after he obtained married, he modified and stopped caring about his dad and mom.”

Regardless of assist from his daughter, Mr Taher struggled. The 75-year-old says he had no alternative however to pursue authorized motion towards his son, Mohammad Shahjahan, for upkeep.

“It was a tough determination for me. All people was telling me to file a case for a very long time, however I didn’t wish to. I filed the case when there was no different manner.”

His son rejects the allegations. The pair have been estranged for many years however Mr Shahjahan, who works as a banker, says he did assist his dad and mom. He says his father introduced the case “to shame him”.

Father or mother v youngster

It is the sort of household breakdown that would occur anyplace however the treatment Mr Taher sought is not common.

He filed a case below Bangladesh’s Mother and father Upkeep Act, a statute that gives recourse for fogeys towards their youngsters who fail to assist them.

Many US states and components of Europe even have so-called filial assist legal guidelines on the books however they’re not often enforced.

However in Asia they’re generally used.

Emory College well being providers researcher Dr Ray Serrano has analysed the varied legal guidelines in Asia, that are rooted within the idea of filial piety, or respect for one’s aged kinfolk.

He describes the legal guidelines as an “extension of alimony or youngster assist” in societies that prize household and communal values.

Responsibility to assist

Singapore is one instance.

Aged dad and mom who cannot assist themselves can search monetary support from their youngsters below the nation’s Upkeep of Mother and father Act.

They will file claims in instances the place youngsters are able to supporting them, however fail to take action.

A tribunal might award a month-to-month allowance or lump sum. Upkeep awards can be granted via conciliation.

Few instances make it to the tribunal as many are resolved via conciliation. In 2017, solely 20 instances on the Tribunal for Upkeep (TMP) resulted in a upkeep award.

Cultural mores

China, India and Bangladesh have comparable methods, which have developed over current years partly to fulfill the calls for of ageing populations. Dr Serrano says it is the thought of “reciprocity”.

“If you’re a (grown-up) youngster and never residing along with your dad and mom you must at the very least present for them.”

Kids face fines and even imprisonment in some circumstances.

Take a current case from China’s Sichuan province. 5 adults have been reportedly sentenced to as much as two years in jail for abandoning their aged father, after a courtroom discovered they hadn’t fulfilled their filial duties.

The position of the state

The legal guidelines sometimes deal with aged poverty and never longer-term care.

However as societies get older, they might provide a instrument to take stress off the state.

The World Well being Group says by 2020, the variety of folks aged 60 years and older will outnumber youngsters aged below 5.

And in 2050, about 80% of older folks will likely be residing in low and middle-income international locations.

Dr Serrano says methods like that in Singapore might act as a “stick that nudges folks” to maintain ageing dad and mom.

Nonetheless, it is a coverage shift that will be met with resistance in international locations just like the US and the UK. Harvard educational James Sabin says it is unlikely legal guidelines like these would ever acquire traction within the US.

The professor leads the division of inhabitants medication and psychiatry, and says the US is on the “different excessive” to a extra community-minded nation like Singapore.

“We’re as a society comparatively unlikely to trample on the rights of people,” he says.

He additionally factors to potential risks in instances the place a toddler argues a guardian is not deserving of care.

“Some folks will say, ‘my dad and mom uncared for me, my dad and mom abused me’… the alternative of a Confucian reverence for the older technology,” Prof Sabin says.

“I do not suppose we wish to be relying on the courtroom for these social-psychological judgements.”

However for Mr Taher, the system in Bangladesh supplied welcome assist.

He struck a cope with his son out of courtroom. Mr Shahjahan has agreed to pay 10,000 taka ($119; £92) to his father every month.

To date he has honoured the deal and Mr Taher says if his son retains paying, he’ll withdraw the case from the native courtroom in Chittagong.

The BBC’s Mir Sabbir contributed to this report. Illustrations by Katie Horwich.

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