A Chinese national, living in Italy, has successfully brought a human rights case against Italian authorities for violating her right to respect for her private and family life. Article 8 of the European Court of Human Rights forbids any interference by public authorities into one’s private and family life.
Jiaoqin Zhou moved to Padua, Italy in 2000 with her partner and one child. After the birth of her second child, Zhou sent the children to live in China with their grandparents. While pregnant with her third child, her partner left, leaving her alone to take care of her child while also trying to make a living for herself. When the child was 3 ½, Zhou left the child with her neighbors while she went to work. She did not, however, inform social services. Several months later, the Youth Court was informed by social services of the circumstances and determined that Zhou was unable to properly care for her child. An adoption procedure was thus called for and the child was placed in a foster family, giving Zhou no contact to her child for ten months.
While the European Court of Human Rights ruled that this was a violation of Article 8, do you think Italian authorities properly put the child up for adoption because a single-working mother had to provide babysitting services for her toddler provided by next-door neighbors? In Italy, only 4% of families are “headed” by single parents. However, 50% of unwed mothers live with their parents or other relatives. Do you think these statistics contribute to the way the Italian government views non-traditional families that lack familial support? While in America it may seem common to have neighbors and friends provide babysitting services to working parents, Italians may view that differently in that they have such strong familial ties. Because 4% is such a low statistic, it is likely there are inadequate social services that are tailored to single mothers, making impossible situations for mothers like Zhou.