The rights of abusive men

Sandra Laville at the Guardian reports:

The government must carry out a full review of family courts to stop them being used by violent men to perpetuate abuse against their partners and children, MPs have said.

They called on the justice secretary, Liz Truss, to act swiftly to tackle deep-seated cultural attitudes among family court judges which put the rights of abusive men over the safety of women and children.

MPs were debating research by Women’s Aid which revealed that between 2005 and 2015, 19 children in 12 families were killed by violent fathers who had been allowed to see them through formal and informal child contact arrangements.

Women who leave their husbands to escape violence and coercive control find they have to face them again in family court.

MPs said the family court system was allowing violent men to re-victimise women. Increasing numbers of men were representing themselves and re-traumatising their victims when they made repeated and often spurious applications for access, they said.

Peter Kyle, the Labour MP for Hove, said: “The family courts are being used to perpetrate abuse against extremely vulnerable women … One of my constituents has been cross-examined by her former partner on three separate occasions, the man who beat her, broke her bones and battered her unconscious.”

O J Simpson would say that’s a sign he really really loved her.

What comes next is upsetting.

Angela Smith, the Labour MP for Penistone and Stocksbridge, raised the case of her constituent Claire Throssell and her children, Jack, 12, and Paul, nine, as Throssell watched from the public gallery.

Throssell’s estranged partner, Darren Sykes, a perpetrator of domestic violence who had threatened her and his children, murdered both boys during a contact visit to his home in 2014 by enticing them to the loft with a new train set. He then set 16 fires in the house and barricaded the home.

He had been given contact by the family court despite the authorities’ knowledge of his violence and the children’s expressed fear of their father.

Smith read Throssell’s own words to MPs: “It took just 15 minutes on 22 October 2014 for my life and heart to be broken completely beyond repair. My happy, funny boys were killed by their own father … The police later told me that Jack was still conscious when he was carried out and he told them: ‘My dad did this and he did it on purpose.’ This was taken as his dying testimony.”

Paul died in his mother’s arms in hospital, while Jack lived for another five days, MPs were told. Sykes died in the fire.

I wonder if any of this is a product of the Men’s Rights Movement. Child custody is one of their core grievances.

Keir Starmer, the former director of public prosecutions and Labour MP for Holborn and St Pancras, said it was important to look at the changes made to the criminal justice system to better protect victims of domestic violence – including special measures for victims and witnesses, and the presence of independent abuse advocates – and ask why the family courts were not making similar changes.

He said there was growing evidence that perpetrators of domestic abuse were using the family courts to continue to harass and control their victims.

There’s a whole throbbing culture now in which harassment and control of women is a full-time fun occupation for way too many men. Perpetrators of domestic abuse are right at home in that culture.

H/t Lady Mondegreen

4 Responses to “The rights of abusive men”