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. Two women, a lawyer and a psychotherapist, 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.