The Impossible Escape: The Story of Narkis Golan, The Hague Convention; and the ongoing battle to protect her young son Bradley | by The Movement Of Mothers | Medium

The Hague Convention has become an international law that now actively works against its initial intent to protect child well-being.

Both the way family courts operate and the way Hague Convention is implemented can be boiled down to one central question — are women and children allowed to leave abusive domestic environments? It seems an extraordinary question to ask, but culturally and legally the answer is often no. Once a woman becomes pregnant her freedom is limited, not by her child, but by a legal culture that remains bound to ideas and norms about human organisation — and the hierarchical relationship between men, women and children — that privilege the interests of men over any other ethical and moral concerns. Seeking to escape abusive men is either incredibly difficult and expensive, or, astonishingly, a punishable offence.

After the initial two-week trial held in the Eastern District of New York, the court found that to return Bradley to Italy would place him at grave risk of harm. There was no dispute of Saada’s physical, psychological, emotional and verbal abuse. Yet, despite fully acknowledging this danger, the court ordered Golan and Saada to present “ameliorative measures” that would facilitate Bradley’s return to Italy. Saada promised to stay away from Golan and to attend therapy for his aggression problems. Extraordinarily, Judge Ann M. Donnelly deemed this sufficient and ordered that Bradley be returned to Italy.

Despite acknowledging that Saada’s violence towards Golan constituted a grave risk to the child, Donnelly concluded that a protective order issued by Italian courts “ameliorates the grave risk of harm to [the child].” Donnelly made note that Saada had not been violent towards Bradley, and had not neglected him. She deemed the only problem to be one of the relationship between Saada and Golan.

Yet this fundamentally misunderstands the nature of domestic violence and the harm it does to children, even if children are not hit themselves. Being inside a household where violence is present has a profound effect on a child’s well-being. There is a serious psychological imprint that the exposure to violence leaves. Fear and insecurity can be embedded at an early age and remain major impediments to how children develop, and restrict how they are able to flourish through all stages of their lives.

On top of this, there is an instinctive connection that children have with their mothers, a dependence on them in their early years, which makes any violence or abuse committed against a mother a direct threat to the most basic and essential needs of a child. In a broader social sense, domestic violence also exposes children to warped ideas of power relations, polluting their understanding of what relationships should be. To believe that domestic violence is just isolated incidents between partners is a failure of duty by judges to understand what actually constitutes child welfare.

Despite its initial intent to safeguard the best interests of children, the Hague Convention has now become a jurisdictional law that pays little attention to child welfare. In doing so the convention provides an international framework to facilitate the embedded legal culture that men have entitlements that are divorced from their actions, and women and children simply do not have the right to leave abusive domestic environments.

Source: The Impossible Escape: The Story of Narkis Golan, The Hague Convention; and the ongoing battle to protect her young son Bradley | by The Movement Of Mothers | Medium

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