Women Seeking Safety: BWSS Forum on Violence against Women, Children and the Law

The assumption that there is value in shared parenting time even if a father is abusive is a dangerous one and can have fatal consequences.

“Women are hesitant to use the family court system to expose his violence in the fear that she will be punished by shared parenting time and decision, that she will be viewed as speaking ill of the father or trying to limit his access to the children, or on occasion accused of alienating the children from the father. When in reality her only goal is to protect her children from an abusive man. Yet the court, in particular the family court, has the authority and ability to air on the side of caution to believe the women and restrict or deny his access to the children. Instead what we hear over and over again is although they believe there was violence in the home directed to the mother, this should not dictate his ability to be a parent to his children. YES, it does mean he should not have access to his children. Yes it does mean he is not capable of being a good father to his children. And this 100 percent means that shared parenting time not only continues to put her safety at risk but the safety of her children is also at risk. Men who resort to hurting or killing their children do so because they have lost control over hurting her and therefore will hurt, what is most important to her, her children”, Summer Rain Bentham, BWSS Manager, Indigenous Women’s Program.

“At present time, the false notion of gender neutrality has lead to the belief that both parents are equally situated and share equal parenting abilities. Men have power in society and this is reflected in their power over women. Women continue to be the primary caregivers of children. After separation and divorce, many women are relegated to a position of relative poverty which is held against them as it is demonstrated repeatedly through our experience that the legal system will hold women accountable to patriarchal standards but are unwilling to hold fathers to female standards when it comes to parenting. Gender neutrality and standards based on it may appear to be democratic and fair but in reality, this concept pretends that social inequalities between women and men do not exist” , Angela Marie MacDougall, BWSS Executive Director, BWSS Open Letter to Minister Eby.

https://www.bwss.org/women-seeking-safety-bwss-forum-violence-women-children-law-2/

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