Pak 'surrogate mother' gets custody of child

 A Pakistani woman who allegedly acted as a surrogate mother for a childless Pakistani American couple has been granted custody of the child by a court after a seven-year-long legal battle.

Justice Ijaz Ahmed of the Rawalpindi bench of the Lahore High Court yesterday said in an order that Farzana Naheed was the legitimate custodian of Fatima, the girl she gave birth to in February 2005 as Farooq Siddiqui, a Pakistani American, had failed to prove his contention that she had acted as a surrogate mother after being paid Rs 1 million.

According to Siddiqui, Naheed had left the baby with him in 2005.

However, she later filed a petition under the Criminal Procedure Code to gain custody of the child from the father.

In March 2005, a sessions court had handed over the two-week-old Fatima to Naheed.
Naheed had also claimed she was married to Siddiqui, who maintained that he had hired her to have the baby through artificial insemination after she answered his advertisement seeking a surrogate mother.

In his order, Justice Ahmed said there was no law on surrogacy in Pakistan.

Even if surrogacy was recognised by the law, there was no proof that the sperm that fertilised the egg had originated from Siddiqui, the order said.

In the absence of such evidence, the custody of the child would go to the mother who carried the foetus for nine months, the judge said.

The judge dismissed Siddiqui's petition seeking custody of the child and granted custody of Fatima, who is now eight years old, to Naheed.

Media reports said this was probably the first case of its kind in Pakistan.

Siddiqui had alleged that Naheed and her relatives had tried blackmailing him for more money while she was pregnant.
He had earlier challenged the sessions court's order granting custody of the child to Naheed in the Lahore High Court.
The judge also noted in his order that Naheed's poverty should not come in the way of granting her custody of the child.
She was a financially deprived woman and depriving her of the custody of the child would add to her woes, the judge observed.

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