|We are outraged that on Friday 26 April, Woman’s Hour (about 30 minutes in) featured a discussion about “parental alienation” with a woman psychotherapist and a woman barrister, following a march on Downing Street the day before by Families Need Fathers to mark “Parental alienation day” – a relatively new invention used to undermine mothers charges of violence by former partners, which is very common. |
As the complaint below by Selma James (Global Women’s Strike) makes clear, the Woman’s Hour discussion made absolutely no reference to how often mothers who are victims of rape and/or domestic violence, including coercive and controlling behaviour, and are trying to protect their children, are dismissed by the family courts, sometimes with deadly consequences for themselves and their children. The programme accepted at face value the claim of “parental alienation”, when it is in fact a controversial “invention” whose “discoverer” has been discredited – see here. None of the women guests or the presenter even mentioned the misogyny and worse of FNF – see here. They backed FnF’s claim that “parental alienation” causes “emotional harm” and welcomed judges increasingly using it to remove children from their mothers and send them to live with their father. These are the kind of professionals we are up against in court and a major reason so many mothers lose their children.
Woman’s Hour is asking to hear from anyone affected by these issues. It would be good if as many people as possible contact them to complain and let them know about your experience, particularly mothers who have suffered violence and whose children have been taken on the grounds of “parental alienation”! Such sexism must not go unchallenged, especially by a programme which is supposed to speak for women.
SnS will complain but please do email them too: email@example.com and send a copy to us.
We will also raise that FnF had one event and got discussed on Woman’s Hour while SnS/mothers have been picketing the family court monthly for two years and they have shown no interest in speaking to us.
Anne and Kim
Legal Action for Women
Selma James to Woman’s Hour
I am appalled by Woman’s Hour’s report on ‘parental alienation’ (26 April 2016) provoked by Families Need Fathers’s march the day before.
You reported on ‘parental alienation’ which has notoriously been used by fathers, including violent fathers, to discredit the mother who is most often the caring parent, and to get power against her and over the children. The women lawyers on your programme reinforced FnF’s point of view; neither spoke for the mother’s situation or acknowledged that in a sexist society it is different from the father’s – economically, socially and in terms of how the courts deal with women as compared to men.
70-90% of court cases feature domestic abuse yet less than 1% of child contact applications are refused – violent fathers nearly always get contact. Does Woman’s Hour really believe that women do not face sexism in the family courts and in the courts generally?
FnF and similar organisations deny the prevalence of rape and domestic violence in order to gain access to children and continue their control over the women who have left them. There was no mention that mothers who have faced violence from fathers are often disbelieved because the courts are sexist and are more likely to take the word of violent and even rapist fathers. No mention of domestic violence as a major issue in parents separating. No mention of the children killed by violent fathers who were given custody or contact by sexist courts, disregarding mothers’ warnings and pleas and children’s terror. No mention of the two women a week murdered by partners or ex-partners. No mention of the contribution mothers, the primary carers in most households, make to children’s lives compared to fathers. No mention of mothers who risk having their children taken from them by social services and the family courts if they report domestic violence. No mention that fathers who get custody or contact often depend on another woman for the actual care of the child/ren who’s been taken from the mother. No mention that single mothers are living in poverty and this is being used to imply they are ‘neglecting’ their children.
Jenni Murray carefully avoided asking any questions that women would normally raise on this issue so that Families Need Fathers, a notoriously sexist and many believe right wing organization, was unchallenged and their march against mothers (whatever they claim) supported by default. There was also no mention of the growing movement of mothers which has been opposing the unwarranted removal of children by local authorities and the courts, which often use false claims of ‘parental alienation’ against mothers and children. The children are the first victims, their fears and wishes ignored, their lives endangered.
I’ll not be the only one who is outraged that Woman’s Hour should themselves treat women in this sexist way.