Women’s Aid whose subtitle is “until women and children are safe” published a controversial report in 2016 entitled “Nineteen Child Homicides” and supported by their “Child First Campaign”.
Putting aside for a moment the co-opting of children into a campaign primarily about ensuring women are not cross-examined in court by male Litigants in Person and of course, whilst also pushing for contact between fathers and children to be blocked right from the start of any contact case in Family Courts, the Women’s Aid report makes for some interesting reading.
The report itself was widely publicised, and as with all reports designed to pull on heartstrings by invoking the impact, or potential impact on children, it was widely shared and cited; in the media, across social media, and in various petitions and other lobbying to the Government, many of which were delivered by Women’s Aid representatives themselves.
The trouble is the report itself is not quite correct on a number of factors.
Honest Ribbon, who contrastingly subtitle themselves “End violence against everyone” were formerly known as WhiteRibbon.org, and is owned by domestic violence pioneer Erin Pizzey. They go on to say that they are…
…dedicated to shedding light on the realities of domestic violence and the grievous harm it visits on its direct victims, in particular on children who grow up in homes where violence is normalized and role-modeled as a normal coping mechanism for dealing with stress and conflict.
We are concerned by the current fad to define the problem of domestic violence in terms of gender. As the scientific evidence, presented to you on this site by the world’s leading experts in domestic violence, shows with complete clarity, violence in the home is not a gendered problem. It is a learned behavior by both sexes in dysfunctional, violent families that is also complicated by alcohol and substance abuse, poverty, lack of education, and a variety of other factors with no relationship at all to gender.
Our mission is to help individuals in the domestic violence industry to abandon the ineffectual and misleading worldview that violence is, generally speaking, a problem visited on women by men.
Turning to Honest Ribbon’s rebuttal of the Women’s Aid report they start with pointing out a fundamental flaw at the heart of the report. Something that Women’s Aid will have been aware of but that the media and certainly the thousands of well-meaning social media sharers would not:
In brief [the report] trawled 10 years of SCR data in order to identify a carefully selected dozen cases of men killing their children whilst on ‘contact’ visits. These carefully selected cases are used in Nineteen Child Homicides to spuriously justify calls for further restrictions on fathers being granted contact with their children.
This Women’s Aid report is staggeringly dishonest.
They go on to highlight the issues with flawed reports and with the failure of MPs to scrutinise the evidence either before them or obtainable through their own Parliamentary research sources (of which they have access to many)
On the basis of their Child First campaign, Women’s Aid won parliamentary time for a debate in the House of Commons on Thursday 15 September 2016.
It was not a debate, as reading the Hansard record testifies. A debate has two sides. This was a monoculture of opinion. Every MP reiterated the same perspective – the perspective put in their mouths by Women’s Aid. The organisation used their considerable resources to lobby individual MPs in their constituencies. MPs surgeries were targeted by perfectly valid cases of abused women and children – and nothing else. But half the truth is a whole lie.
The blame here lies with the MPs. A lobby group cannot be expected to be balanced. But MPs are under an obligation to represent everyone fairly, and are assumed to be intelligent enough to seek balance. Instead it appears that our parliament can very easily be led by the nose by a lobby group which presses the right emotional buttons.
You can read the original report here:
and you can read the response by Honest Ribbon here:
The conclusion of Honest Ribbon is below:
If the SCRs are indicative of all child killings, then the findings of our review suggest that,
- One or both parents are culpable in the killing of at least 65% of children – and probably a much greater percentage if culpability could be assigned in every case.
- Mothers’ male partners, where not the father, are culpable for ~11% of child killings. This might be a somewhat larger percentage if culpability could be assigned in every case.
- Children are killed by someone other than their parents or the mother’s male partner in only ~7% of cases.
- Where culpability is established, the mother is the lone perpetrator in 36% of cases and either a lone or a co-perpetrator in over half of cases (58%).
- Mothers are more likely to be responsible for a child death than fathers and male partners combined.
- Single mothers are the demographic most likely to be responsible for the deaths of children (61 cases versus 55 cases of fathers as sole perpetrators).
- No cases of single fathers killing children were identified in the 306 SCRs reviewed.
Armed with these observations let us return to the objectives of the Child First campaign. Firstly, to…
stop avoidable child deaths and make sure children are put first in the family courts.
Contrary to the claims of the Child First campaign this objective will not be met by further restrictions on child contact by fathers – for the simple reason that it is mothers who are responsible for most child deaths – and single mothers in particular. When all the available data is used – as opposed to the specially selected 12 cases presented in Nineteen Child Homicides – the Child First campaign’s recommendations are seen to be the opposite of putting the safety of children first.
And secondly, in respect of the plea that…
no parent should have to be told that their child has been harmed in an act of revenge or rage
we have seen in Section 9 that mothers are just as capable of such destructive behaviour as fathers. The 12 cases presented in Nineteen Child Homicides were specially selected to give a false impression – a misinterpretation of reality.
The Child First campaign by Women’s Aid is profoundly dishonest.
We’re a gender neutral organisation but when children are co-opted into gender-biased campaigns to achieve a gender-biased advantage in the family law system then we will speak out for the children… because nobody else does.
In a Family Law system designed for combative parents there is no real allowance for the views of children and any understanding of how Family Law ultimately impacts on children most of all.
We speak for the children in Family Law so that, finally, the children have a voice.