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MENZ Issues March 2001: Volume 6, Issue 2

Support the Family Court Protests! Every Tuesday lunchtime, 12.00 midday till 2.00 pm. Auckland District Court, Cnr Albert St, and Kingston St

Civil Disobedience Proposed As Family Court Protests Intensify Fifteen men representing several groups of fathers from around New Zealand met Dr Muriel Newman at parliament after her Member’s Bill to open up the Family Court to media scrutiny was voted down on 21st February. After the meeting, campaigner Darrell Carlin from MATCH (Men And Their Children) said some groups were planning a campaign of civil disobedience.

Orchestrated Abuse Of The Family Unit The greatest form of violence currently being undertaken within this country is the orchestrated abuse of the family unit and fathers in particular. One has to seriously challenge a system that sees fathers facing the court for simply sending their children Christmas cards or presents.

Politicians Vote Against Open Court Bill I’ve just returned from Parliament this evening (21st Feb) where I witnessed the Green Party voting with Labour and the Alliance to prevent Muriel Newman’s Family Court (Openness of Proceedings) Amendment Bill from proceeding to a Select Committee.

HOPE for Aotearoa My letter to you is on behalf of the children. The children who want their fathers to be a big part of their lives, even if there is an argument between mum and dad. I am here trying to help fathers make better parents. I am also here because some judge just stole my kids.

Caring Fathers Meet With Judge Mahony In February, the Christchurch Caring Fathers group organised a public meeting with Principal Family Court Judge Patrick Mahony. Promoting the meeting in their newsletter, organiser Jim Murphy wrote: “The New Zealand taxpayer, men, and children urgently need the lid lifted on the truth of what happens in the Family Court. The truth is that the Family Court does not function in any way in accordance with the statute made by Parliament.

Family Court Experiences FatheringNZ wants to hear about your experience with the Family Court in New Zealand.

Census Framers Naïve Or Subversive? "…..if someone who lives in the same household as you acts as your father and you think of him as your father, mark "my mother and/or father". Either the framers of the census are naïve or subversive. This clearly undermines the real mother/father family and it is probably in breach of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. It can and will cause confusion certainly in the mind of a child who has a right to know who his/her natural mother & father are.

Warren Farrell’s New Book A provocative flyer for "Father and Child Reunion"

Abuse Industry Fallout Ms Raukawa-Tait is to be applauded for bringing the matter of domestic abuse so forcibly into the public arena. However she accuses others of ‘cover up’ when she heads a group very much implicated in ‘abuse industry’ politics and cover up. We wait for her and other organisations (inclusive of Ministries of Social Policy, Justice and Women’s Affairs) to put aside feminist ideology and gendered politics and to deal with abuse wherever it is evident in our society.

Ellis Enquiry A Whitewash By hiring Sas, and limiting the review of evidence to that given at depositions and at trial, the Ministerial Inquiry was set up to be an expensive farce. Is the case parallel to Arthur Alan Thomas, which had to await the publication of David Yallop’s book to establish a Royal Commission of Inquiry? Perhaps Ellis will have to await the publication of Lynley Hood’s book "A City Possessed" due on the shelves later this year.

A City Possessed Lynley Hood’s long awaited book about the controversial Christchurch Civic Crèche case will now be published by Dunedin based publisher Longacre Press.The book was to have been published by Canterbury University Press, but after local “thought police” tried to censor large portions of the text, Hood was forced to find a new publisher.

A New Voice For Children My name is Clayton Giles. I live in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. I’m fourteen years old. I started the Legalkids website to give children of divorce, like myself, a place to interact. On January 1, 2001, I went on a hunger strike which lasted nineteen days. This caused a great deal of commotion, with kids and adults everywhere becoming involved.

Support the Family Court Protests!

Every Tuesday lunchtime, 12.00 midday till 2.00 pm. Auckland District Court, Cnr Albert St, and Kingston St

Protestors at Auckland Family Court Photo: Protestors at Auckland Family Court 20th March 2001

Still ignored by mainstream media, see more photos of recent protests here.

It is difficult for working people to get to protests. Thanks to those who have taken time off work to help.

With the list of participants growing, we are considering splitting into two sites, one remaining at the Auckland Family Court, and we have our thoughts for a second site.

Anyone keen to protest at a particular site other than the Auckland Court, please let me know.

Bevan Berg bigb@ihug.co.nz

or phone Jim (09) 815 0307 Separated Fathers Support Trust

Civil Disobedience Proposed As Family Court Protests Intensify

Fifteen men representing several groups of fathers from around New Zealand met Dr Muriel Newman at parliament after her Member’s Bill to open up the Family Court to media scrutiny was voted down on 21st February.

After the meeting, campaigner Darrell Carlin from MATCH (Men And Their Children) said some groups were planning a campaign of civil disobedience, including the mass withdrawal of child support and subversive ways of publicising confidential Family Court documents via the internet. He said fathers were being forced into civil disobedience by the secrecy of the court.

However Dr Newman said there was "no way" she would support such a campaign, or be involved with any group that did. She told the Evening Post: "If I’d known they were doing more than just having a chat, I would have asked them to go elsewhere". She had left the men in the meeting room after a "debrief", because she had to rush off to another meeting.

Porirua Family Court protest Photo: Porirua Family Court 13th March – Kirin Dayal, Darryl Ward, Peter Conway, John Carter, Peter Zohrab

Media release from Darryl Ward,spokesperson for Families Apart Require Equality (FARE):

"The civil disobedience campaign being touted by some parents’ groups is not supported by all family rights lobby groups. FARE does not support civil disobedience. I can however understand the frustration of these fathers, but breaking the law is not the solution.

“Many fathers question why they should pay money to their ex-partners for children they are not allowed to see. They are understandably frustrated that their only role as a father that is recognised is as a provider of child support.

“To those fathers I say I know your feelings, I have been there, I know the pain of disenfranchisement, but please do not choose to break the law. That will only reflect badly on all fathers.

“New Zealand fathers are an extremely diverse group, and we celebrate this diversity. We believe fathers who have lost their children in this way should not be staying silent, but maintaining dignity and approaching things in the right way .”

Comment by Barbara Faithfull, secretary of the CREDO society:

“Committing an act of civil disobedience as a (usually) last resort to a problem cannot and must not be judged in terms of being either right or wrong. This is because it is a philosophical stance which some choose to adopt as a matter of principle, and sometimes for the most honourable of motives.

“It is a highly respected method of protest, provided that it is well considered, conducted responsibly, and those involved are prepared to face whatever consequences may befall them, even gaol.

“Indeed a key objective of the exercise is usually to get into such a situation where one is able to get maximum publicity for one’s grievance, and if that means even going to court, and even gaol, then so be it.

“Therefore it requires very careful thinking through and no small amount of courage, to ensure that one is indeed prepared to take such an approach and face such possible consequences.

“Whether the men referred to in the Evening Post story of Feb. 24th (‘Newman backs off men’s rights protest’) who reportedly are planning such a style of protest have thought through sufficiently this matter only they will be able to decide.

“However this ought not in any way to reflect negatively upon any other men’s group people who disagree with such an approach, as is asserted in FARE’s media statement, where it also urges such men ‘not to break the law.’ This concern is therefore misguided and unwarranted.

“In view of FARE’s concluding comment: ‘Maintaining dignity and approaching things in the right way is how FARE and many others in the movement choose to do things’, I would respectfully suggest that anyone carrying out an act of civil disobedience, if meeting all the criteria listed above, ought also to be able to do so with dignity.”

Bevan Berg from the Separated Father’s Support Trust agrees:

“There was a time when black Americans could only sit down the back of the bus and had to give their seat up and stand for a white American. Wasn’t it civil disobedience when Martin Luther King organised the bus boycott? It was the protest that lead to change, and of recognition of the issue.

“The most apparent hurdle in the New Zealand Family Court issue is recognition of the problem. While the Government, Judges and the Family Law Section of the Law Society continue to vindicate themselves and harden their resolve, which they have been doing lately, the level of anger and frustration will continue to rise. The media continue to skirt the issue. Sooner or later somewhere in this country as has happened overseas that level of frustration and anger will become an act of violence.

“I know Darrell Carlin well. He is an intelligent educated man, a businessman and a father. I consider it rather fortunate that we have people who can stand up and show that there is determination to progress, and who can attract media attention. It might just be the glint of hope that reaches the heart of a lonely and desperate man. It may save a child who once had a loving father from seeing his grief stricken father condemned for a act of passion.

“When Labour, Alliance and the Greens voted down the Open Family Court bill, who gave them the mandate to condemn my children to more of the same?

“Children are not children for very long, and three years is a long time between ballot boxes. Some fathers no longer have children, they have disturbed adults.

“This is not a party political issue where we should wait to see what the next Government will do. This is not election issue to see who will give us the best deal.

“It is a National Issue ….NOW…. for thousands of children.

“In the shadow of buried pain, live thousands of fathers, who do not know how better to deal with their situation, and segregated from them, children who can’t vote.

“When you get down to it, how many people in this country actually made the decision, and how many, if it were not for a party policy would actually put their name to it? Was that an act of democracy?

“People didn’t just start talking about civil disobedience today, it is just the first time the media reported it.

“If we are not allowed to debate this in parliament then perhaps it is time to debate the issue in the media. It isn’t going away.”

MATCH: Darrell Carlin, PO Box 14063 Tauranga darrell@carlinvalenti.co.nz

FARE: Darryl Ward, 54b Poplar Ave Raumati South taliesin@paradise.net.nz

CREDO Society: Barbara Faithful, PO Box 105 105 Auckland credo@surfer.co.nz

Separated Fathers Support Trust: Bevan Berg, PO Box 991 Manurewa bigb@ihug.co.nz

Sexist Judge Photo: Sexist Judges Abuse Children 13th March protest

Orchestrated Abuse Of The Family Unit

Article by Martin Crosbie, Chairman of the Father and Child Trust, Otago.

The greatest form of violence currently being undertaken within this country is the orchestrated abuse of the family unit and fathers in particular. One has to seriously challenge a system that sees fathers facing the court for simply sending their children Christmas cards or presents.

The Family Court (having lately earned the name “Center for de-Fathering a Nation”) doesn’t keep statistics, preferring to operate within secrecy and taking the gender-biased feminist point of view that domestic violence is solely, or predominantly, a male caused issue. The Family Court and its supporters constantly attempt to indicate that they operate a gender-neutral male friendly environment.

The many men that we have had to deal with would present a very different picture. One only has to look at the Family Court’s own publication on domestic violence to see a clear gender bias. The court brochure chooses to indicate that woman and children are the only victims of domestic violence and that males, presumably the fathers, are the perpetrators. The court brochure recommends that woman consult with Woman’s Refuge. Woman’s Refuge is a well funded feminist lobby group that ensures we are constantly reminded of “MALE” abusive behaviour, despite Raukawa-Tait (CEO of Women’s Refuge since May 1999) openly admitting to abusing her ex-partner Michael Sims’ two young teenage children.

The NZ government doesn’t bother to fully research child abuse despite its grandstanding on the issue. The Family Court stopped keeping statistical information over 10 years ago. Child, Youth and Family Services keeps very limited records on family violence. A somewhat strange approach as one would consider that if you wanted to protect children you would first have to determine who was threatening them.

With some understanding of the truth concerning the perpetrators of domestic violence one has to question with suspicion a government that has a Ministry of Youth Affairs being run by the head of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs and again the same dept being made responsible for ensuring the implementation of the United Nations Convention On The Rights Of The Child.

The media is also responsible for distorting the truth. Movies, TV, selective editorials and reporting all paint a picture of male aggression that tends to incorporate fathers and presents them as a bad proposition for their children.

The true nature and extent of abuse can only be understood with proper research.

The Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study on partner abuse showed that about 27 percent of women and 34 percent of men among the Dunedin study reported their partner had physically abused them. About 37 percent of women and 22 percent of men said they had perpetrated the violence. This is remarkably consistent with numerous studies undertaken in Australia, America, United Kingdom and Canada.

These comprehensive overseas studies are worth noting. The figures on partner abuse were very similar to NZ but they went further to investigate the perpetrators of child abuse.

In Britain the National Society for the prevention of Cruelty to Children’s (NSPCC) largest ever study of child maltreatment published 19th November 2000 found that violent acts towards children are more likely to be meted out by mothers than fathers (49% of the sample experienced abuse from mothers and 40% from fathers)". Sexual abuse between biological fathers and their daughters is rare, occurring in less than four in a thousand cases.

The Third National Incidence Study of Child Abuse and Neglect (NIS-3) from the US Department of Health and Human Services reveals data about child abuse by mothers which are far more critical of single-mothers than previous Bureau of Justice Statistics reports. The report shows when the perpetrator is a non-natural parent, that males (read: non-biological fathers) are the perpetrators of 90% of physical abuse, 97% of sexual abuse, 74% of emotional abuse, and 82% of educational neglect.

Of the 278 male perpetrators of fatal child abuse, only 30 were biological fathers, whereas 78% or 768 of the 984 female perpetrators of fatal child abuse were biological mothers. Thus, compared to biological fathers, 32 times as many children are fatally abused by females and 25 times as many are fatally abused by biological mothers.

Research continues to paint the same picture as would any clear observation of New Zealand’s appalling child abuse incidents in recent times.

It’s clearly time for the Family Court, government agencies and the news media to stop treating biological fathers with the contempt that seems so prevalent.

The Family Court offers no support for fathers. Instead, it instigates and perpetuates a feeling of blame. Some fathers become so overwhelmed with the contempt they feel that they must take the law into their own hands. Thus, by treating the law with a similar contempt to which that they have had to endure, they then become the public justification for the existence of the very system that drove them to that end.

The time must come for COMPREHENSIVE and UNBIASED research within NZ to fully ascertain current trends. Then policy based upon such research rather than the political aspirations of various political parties and pressure groups.

Father and Child Trust Otago: P.O. Box 52, Dunedin Ph (03) 4776560 engdraw@xtra.co.nz

Protestors at Auckland Family Court Photo: Protestors at Auckland Family Court 13th March 2001

Politicians Vote Against Open Court Bill

I’ve just returned from Parliament this evening (21st Feb) where I witnessed the Green Party voting with Labour and the Alliance to prevent Muriel Newman’s Family Court (Openness of Proceedings) Amendment Bill from proceeding to a Select Committee.

And with their crucial votes went any chance for parliamentarians to become more fully informed about what really happens in closed Family Courts, and any chance to restore at least some degree of open democracy to a judicial process which directly affects so many people.

National, United and NZ First speakers all said they could not support the Bill in its present form, for various reasons. But they were ALL prepared to at least allow the Bill to be considered by a Select Committee. And of course ACT.

But not the Greens. What a totally disgraceful and shameful event. The only Green party speaker was Nandor Tanczos. His speech was contradictory and weak. It was not based on fact or reason, but just petty political expediency. I wonder what pathetic tit-bits the government has promised the Greens in return. To reduce greenhouse gas emissions within the confines of parliament by 2010 maybe? If only! Or are the Greens still naïve enough to think that Margaret Wilson’s ‘review’ of the Family Court is sufficient payback for their support? Nandor doesn’t seem to realise that this carefully orchestrated and controlled review will never produce any of the changes that are so desperately needed.

To his credit, Nandor was the only speaker who mentioned all the recent editorial comment in support of the Bill. He even said he agreed with it, but then contradicted himself by saying he also agreed with Margaret Wilson!

The vehemence of Margaret Wilson’s speech does indicate that the government is running scared, however. She knows she is moving against the tide of public opinion, as reflected by editorial comment in newspapers up and down the country recently. One thing that all politicians understand, no matter how deep their heads are buried, is that ignoring public opinion is electorally risky. But defying public opinion is political suicide. The ‘public’ of course are (still) mainly families, and they have a democratic right in a free society to be informed about Family Court decisions, and how they have been ‘justified’.

Wilson said only about 5.7% of cases are taken to appeal in the High Court. A little research would show that figure is really only the tip of the iceberg, and that dissatisfaction with Family Court decisions is really much greater. The low quality of the debate from the government side was appalling. They resorted to petty name-calling because they knew their arguments were pathetically weak and untenable. For example, Margaret Wilson kept referring to Dr Muriel Newman as "Judge Muriel" in a deliberately sneering manner. It really was a disgusting exhibition by the person who holds the office of New Zealand’s Attorney General.

The Alliance speaker, Dr Liz Gordon, was equally ill-informed. She attacked men’s groups in general, and ‘Family Court protesters’, as she called the type of people who support Muriel Newman’s bill. She even had the gall to suggest that Bevan Berg (who she named in parliament, stating he was associated with a Wellington men’s group) was supportive of Margaret Wilson!

Neville Watkin

HOPE for Aotearoa

Earlier this month the following message was sent to Helen Clark, and leaders of all political parties:

Ben Easton Photo: Ben Easton 13th March

My letter to you is on behalf of the children. The children who want their fathers to be a big part of their lives, even if there is an argument between mum and dad. The children who love their parents and want the government to help them resolve their difficulties, and not initially through the court system, but before it is necessary. If their difficulties continue after this, then the court system and further support should be used.

I am here trying to help fathers make better parents. I am also here because some judge just stole my kids.

The prophecy of those already experienced with the Family Court that I am "pissing in the wind" is proving accurate for the moment. This is bad, that the treatment of other citizens, as well has been so cruel. And now I have been labled as impertinent, and out of line. Just another whinging dad.

Jim Anderton’s comments (that the best interests of the child are different in every case and the Family Court is the best mechanism we have to sort out these issues) should quell my storm, but when I analyse the reasons, it remains easy to see the cracks. Be assured if there is a mistake, then it is the children who suffer the damage, not the politicians. A child has the right to be parented by both parents, a parent has the right to parent their child. A father must have an equal role, for the "best interests" of the child to be recognised.

Jim Anderton’s comments assume that the judges are able to make sound and sensible decisions, all the time in "the best interests of the child".

My judge condoned a Domestic Protection Order on me after a mediation, of all things. I have never smacked my children, nor my ex-wife, nor have I abused them. The abuse I am being accused of by my ex-wife is inflated and fabricated. I was courteous to the judge, as I am being now. It is just that I am stating truths, that go against the political agenda. So it would seem "the children do not come first". It seems that my children have to be penalised, for my arguing for the children’s right to be fathered by their dad.

Jim Anderton’s claim of only 5% of parents needing the Family Court probably represents quite a few people. The figure sounds marginal. The 5% isn’t just made up of the current population. It has a history. The mob of argumentative people is quite large. Especially when you include children in the 5% and grandparents and the like. You could calculate from current statistics that many of the 5% are Maori, redo the equation, including whanau and count again. We do have a problem in society.

My children love me and I them; they are safe with me. At the moment they are constricted by a false DPO. I have no argument with my ex-wife, and have said this throughout. Now, because I have a Domestic Protection Order, I am only allowed to see them if my ex-wife grants me supervised access, for which I am assured by Margaret Wilson I will have to pay.

Faith in the Family Court reforms will be unsatisfactory, (unless of course you sack the judges who make poor decisions, and the lawyers who maintain their income-promoting argument). But you cannot see these decisions. Judges who are fallible are left to preside, and make more terrible mistakes. This all comes at the cost of damage to the children. At whose hands? Where does this abuse begin?

If you have a problem with violence, and you have a problem with the court system, surely you fix the court system first. But you seem to be saying to me that this is to be done, using judges and paid lawyers who have already interpereted "in the best interests of the child". So what has changed? I haven’t hurt my children, they have suffered no abuse from me, only from their mother, and the legal system. I have a DPO and you are telling me my best option is to use a court system with a terrible history. It hasn’t served me very well so far.

Use the resource of men previously affected, motivate us, to help, to work, to take the damage away, and rebuild the nation so as to minimise the damage this group is facing. Understand that there is a major disparity between men and women’s support. There is a hefty financial package for women and a Domestic Protection Order, coupled with anger management, for men. Reviewing the Family Court will retain the status quo, taking the shared parenting bill to Select Committee may not.

Te taonga nga tamariki

Ben Easton, HOPE: (Homes Observing Parental Equality) b_easton@hotmail.com

Caring Fathers Meet With Judge Mahony

In February, the Christchurch Caring Fathers group organised a public meeting with Principal Family Court Judge Patrick Mahony. It was attended by about 50 men and six women. Promoting the meeting in their newsletter, organiser Jim Murphy wrote:

“The New Zealand taxpayer, men, and children urgently need the lid lifted on the truth of what happens in the Family Court. The truth is that the Family Court does not function in any way in accordance with the statute made by Parliament.

The process has been hijacked by hungry lawyers and others and therefore has a very adversarial environment.

In other more modern countries the Family Court process is far more children, father, and grandparent-friendly because the process is transparent and lawyers have little involvement. The poor taxpayer is getting no value for money from the tens of millions of dollars of legal aid spent in the adversarial Family Court environment.

It’s time for children’s true wishes to be heard in the Family Court.”

Judge Mahony told the meeting that over the last 20 years family structures had continued to change, and also methods of caring for children. The Family Court did not operate in a vacuum, and changes in the roles of men and women had led to more flexibility in the way children were parented. "In my view it is timely the Government is reviewing the Guardianship Act," he said.

Fair criticism of the court was welcomed, but it was unfair when directed at individual judges who could not respond, Mahony told the meeting. While unable to comment on individual cases, he said he took on board concerns expressed by some men at the meeting about non-compliance by their former partners with Family Court orders.

Mahony admitted the court does not do well in enforcement of child access orders. There are provisions for sanctions against a parent who prevents access, but they are not used much. A programme to enforce compliance with court orders with meaningful sanctions was essential if court orders were to be respected, he said.

Bevan Berg, Aaron Williamson Photo: Aaron Williamson (right) next to Bevan Berg – 13th March Family Court protest

Aaron Williamson, from the Christchurch Father and Child Trust, reported that although he came across as a very nice man, Judge Mahony demonstrated little comprehension of the effect the Family Court process has on relationships. When questioned why the court doesn’t subscribe to shared parenting, he argued that the court determining how much time each parent cares for a child constitutes shared care, implying that fathers just choose to call this arrangement custody and access.

He currently supports the FC being closed to reporters because this is legislated, but would support open proceedings if there were a change in the law.

When asked why transcripts are altered to cover up blunders made by Judges, Mahony seemed quite indignant at being put on the spot to account for “other Judges’ behaviour”.

Williamson commented: “I can’t believe that still so little consideration is given to father/child relationships and that efforts over recent years have made little impression on the collective psyche.”

Another father who attended the meeting reported:

“Mahony came across as ineffectual and didn’t want to rock the boat. He spoke mostly about what he couldn’t do, not what he could. He offered no ideas or solutions to individual or systemic problems, and suggested no positive avenues to pursue in order to redress the current injustices.

He did say he hoped that men would move from ‘providers’ to ‘nurturers’, and in turn become caring parents.”

Caring Fathers: PO Box 287 Christchurch Ph (03) 366 7371

Father & Child Trust: PO Box 26040 Christchurch Ph (03) 372 9140 secretary@fatherandchild.org.nz

Family Court Experiences

FatheringNZ wants to hear about your experience with the Family Court in New Zealand. Please write a summary of your case and send it to the address below. All information should be able to be backed up with evidence. (Back up evidence not to be included at present).

Try to keep this one less than five pages. Electronic is the best form.

This is a two year project, so don’t expect results straightaway.

Fax 09 358 5804 Mob 0274 589 800,

P.O. Box 109 624, Newmarket, Auckland fcexperience@FatheringNZ.org

Census Framers Naïve Or Subversive?

Press release issued by Bruce Logan, Director of the New Zealand Education Development Foundation in Christchurch:

Have you caught up with the advice given to us in the help notes for the 2001 Census? No 19 page 7 says:

Who counts as mother/father/sister/brother/daughter/son?

Individuals live with many different people. For example: step-parents, half-brothers, aunts, their father’s partner, their partner’s child.

If someone who lives in the same household as you acts as your mother, and you think of her as your mother, mark "my mother and/or father". Similarly, if someone who lives in the same household as you acts as your father and you think of him as your father, mark "my mother and/or father".

If you act as a parent to a child living in the same household as you, then mark "my son(s) and/or daughter(s)".

If you think of someone who lives in the same household as you as your brother or sister, then mark "my sister(s) and/or brothers)".

Either the framers of the census are naïve or subversive. This clearly undermines the real mother/father family and it is probably in breach of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. It can and will cause confusion certainly in the mind of a child who has a right to know who his/her natural mother & father are. This piece of advice rejects the notion that the mother/father child unit is the building block of society and the cornerstone of civilization. A bunch of Wellington bureaucrats know better.

And there is a supreme irony here. The CYFS report is just out. And what is the response? Spend more money.

empty pushchairs Photo: Empty Pushchairs from de-Fathered Families – March 13th protest

We need to understand what is happening here. Nanny is reinforcing the lifestyles of which she approves. They are transgressive, pleasure seeking, contemptuous of stable relationships and objective moral codes.

Nanny approves of this lifestyle because it is subversive of those institutions – marriage, family, local societies, and other "little platoons" that compete with the state for our loyalties. Where transgression rules so does the state. So in the eyes of the state a de facto partner or an addict of some kind, is at worst, an object of compassion, at best a defender of a valid way of life. His habit is to escape from the intolerable conventions of traditional morality, and if he dreams in a dream world of his own, isn’t that his right, in a society that deliberately will not come to terms with the real problem confronting our children?

And the real problem is the breakdown of the family, made all the more rapid by lunatic government policy.

And all this in the face of pervasive international data which clearly says overwhelmingly the best way to bring up a child is for mum & dad to get married and stay married. Child abuse, for example, happens in the situation where people cohabit with live in lovers. Married parents seldom abuse their children. Cohabitating parents do so by more than 4 to 1; at least one survey says by 10 to 1. If anyone doubts the data please get in touch, I have it coming out my ears.

When, oh, when will the truth be faced. Nearly every "family" lifestyle other than the traditional one costs the tax-payer money. And if the framers of the census and the responders to the CYFS Report have their way a great deal more money. And as for the suffering of children? I dare not think.

NZEDF, 50 Acacia Ave, Riccarton, Christchurch Ph (03) 343-1570 logan@nzedf.org.nz

Website: http://www.nzedf.org.nz

Warren Farrell’s New Book

A provocative flyer for "Father and Child Reunion" is at:

http://www.dxmarket.com/worldnetdaily/products/B0094.html

It includes comments such as:

  • Children do better with single fathers than with single mothers. Both boys and girls are healthier and do better psychologically and academically, as well as socially.
  • Even characteristics such as empathy are exhibited more by children brought up by single fathers.
  • Single fathers experience less stress juggling children and work than do single mothers.

Bonnie and Clyde Photo: Mother ‘Bonnie’ and Judge ‘Clyde’ team up to create fatherless families. March 13th FC protest

Abuse Industry Fallout

Letter to the Editor The Evening Post Re: ‘Refuge Head’ article 5th March.

Ms Raukawa-Tait is to be applauded for bringing the matter of domestic abuse so forcibly into the public arena. However she accuses others of ‘cover up’ when she heads a group very much implicated in ‘abuse industry’ politics and cover up. We wait for her and other organisations (inclusive of Ministries of Social Policy, Justice and Women’s Affairs) to put aside feminist ideology and gendered politics and to deal with abuse wherever it is evident in our society. Complicit in current disinformation is the media, including this paper, who slavishly follow popularised half-truth or inaccurate portrayals of who abuses whom. Our children, society’s future, and all abused deserve better.

American child protection agency figures clearly show that the most likely ‘site’ of child abuse, including murder, is the solo-mother household. This is because of time with the child, stress (poverty, isolation) and exposure of children to other adults without ‘attachment’ to them. New Zealand would have its own findings on these matters if current feminist politics did not defeat such Bills before Parliament as the Child Mortality Review Board, Openness of Family Court and Joint Parenting.

Where are the pro-family policies and family laws that discourage such ‘sites’ of abuse from developing and where is a media whose integrity extends to researching and reporting accurately social stress situations?

PS: to Editor (not published).

Re: Recent letter rejection and abridging, abuse news articles.

The biased media coverage of abuse in our society is a serious impediment to genuine education of the public. Some domestic abuse is continually excused and worse covered up, (eg. Women as abusers of children, as equal instigators of physical domestic violence; there is much genuine sociological research that clearly shows the magnitude of these problems), ironically actually serves to detract from current efforts to dealing with the popularised abuser, men.

For example there are many hundreds of men attending court directed compulsory Living Without Violence programs, each week. Many are there for minor, non-physical, relationship ‘abuse’. The message they get is that they are solely responsible, the reality as they fully realise, is that their partner has contributed to the relationship dysfunction but has been allowed to falsely claim ‘victim’ status. Lost amongst the feminist anti-male messages are the very good ‘tools’ being provided for dealing with future anger producing situations. What is also ‘gained’ by society are an enlarging group of men who no longer respect the Police or legal system, these attitudes are past down to the next generation. These men thus embittered, also add to the mental health, incarceration, alcohol, suicide and future relationship dysfunction stats.

The media has a social responsibility to report accurately social situations and to allow equal representations in such debate. We, (men, fathers and family groups) consistently witness the media referring only to the Women Refuge and the like for ‘expert’ comment on domestic violence and other social situations. For example, in the recent Upper Hutt picnic murder of a mother by ex-partner, front-page comment from Women’s Refuge was included as well as later comment. However conspicuous in its absence was comment by these groups in the Nelson mother murders children case and other female as abuser cases. In both instances letters from men’s groups dealing with aspects of legal system causation in these events were down played or ignored, let alone any front-page coverage.

What is looked for in this current debate is fair coverage of all parties involved in this arena of social dysfunction. Our experience thus far is where you give coverage to men’s and family group, or where there are female exposé articles, you inevitably finish off with counter comments (‘the last word’) from an opposing feminist faction.

This debate currently before us is too important for you to perpetuate gender politics. We look for improvements.

Max Thomas, Social Equity Group maxthomas@actrix.co.nz

Ellis Enquiry A Whitewash

So much has been written about the Peter Ellis case that it is difficult to add more. Perhaps a brief summary of the case, and why there is so much concern about how it was handled, might be useful. Incidentally, no-one took tickets in my sweepstake on the outcome of the Ministerial Inquiry, so I’ll have to eat all the chocolate fish myself.

The case had its origins in the moral panic over child abuse, and in particular about ritual abuse. The fever pitch reached over the case had many aspects, not the least because it came at a time of what social scientists called an international "social hysteria" related specifically to organised, ritual or "satanic’ abuse.

There were several high-profile cases in Britain, the United States and Australia, and several New Zealand experts who were to be influential in the Ellis case traveled overseas to study the phenomenon.

What had this to do with Ellis? Before the charges of abuse went ahead against him, numerous bizarre allegations were made including of satanic killing of babies, putting children in a tunnel beneath a trapdoor, and forcing them to stand naked in a circle of adults. It was claimed that a child exploded, another was stabbed to death, that Ellis transplanted a bone from one child into another, that he cut off one boy’s penis and stuck it back on with Sellotape.

Ellis was also accused of defecating and urinating on the children, sticking sharp objects into them, and hanging them in a cage from the crèche ceiling. But in initial interviews, none of the children concerned made any allegations of sexual offending and, at one stage, police told the crèche management the inquiry was over.

Victoria University sociology professor Mike Hill said that all the major United States ritual abuse cases had now been overturned. "Australia never got as far as conviction and I don’t think any similar cases have been proved in Britain.

"Ellis got caught between the wave of hysteria generated by the Satanism scare, and propagated by New Zealand social workers in 1981, and the official reports in the UK and USA which totally debunked the claims but were not published until 1994. By then the legal process was complete" Professor Hill said.

There were 36 charges laid against Ellis alone. Charges were also laid against four of his female co-workers. As some of the evidence faltered, all charges were dropped against the women, as were some against Ellis. In 1993 he was convicted and sentenced to 10 years in prison on 16 counts of indecencies – reduced to 13 counts in a court process involving two unsuccessful hearings before the Court of Appeal. It has always been a mystery as to why the police failed to pursue charges against the four women – they were based on the same sort of allegations.

No tangible evidence of any of the allegedly brutal treatment of the children was brought to the trial. No child complained to its parents at the time of the alleged brutality. Where was the physical, medical and forensic evidence of injury, surgery, murder, mutilated carcasses, cages, tunnels, trapdoors, guns, needles, exploding children or sexual abuse? Why were these allegations- and many others like them – not presented to the jury?

The evidence brought to trial was heavily culled by the prosecution. It consisted mainly of accounts from selected children who had been interviewed many times over, and the opinions of so-called experts who interpreted what the children had finally said. This matter lies at the core of the case. No tangible evidence, just pseudo-psychological interpretations based on badly flawed techniques and beliefs.

Our judicial process is the heart of our community and we have an inherent right to examine it when it goes badly awry. Peter Ellis was convicted on the incomplete, imaginative and uncorroborated testimony of small children, and the opinions of so-called "experts".

Widespread public and professional concern resulted from suggestions of satanic ritual abuse, the dropping of charges against his co-workers, suggestions of process abuse, and the withholding of masses of critical evidence from jury scrutiny. A key child witness recanted her stories.

Ellis achieved a rare goal – he had two Appeals. Both rejected his applications. His last Appeal resulted in the Court indicating there were matters in the submission which would be better dealt with by an Inquiry.

Before Ellis’ second Appeal, Sir Thomas Thorp, a retired Justice, reviewed the case. His report was never made public, although copies were given to the prosecution and defence teams. His report cast serious doubt on the convictions.

The report canvassed the views of experts on mass-allegation child abuse cases, and says that if those views proved to have substantial support, "it would in my view be difficult to argue against the existence of a serious doubt about the safety of (Ellis’s) convictions".

His report is in sharp contrast to the one written by former Chief Justice Sir Thomas Eichelbaum and issued last week. He canvassed much the same evidence as Sir Thomas Thorp but concluded that Ellis had failed "by a distinct margin" to prove his convictions were unsafe.

Mrs Ablett Kerr QC asked Justice Minister Phil Goff for a royal commission, but he opted to have Sir Thomas Eichelbaum conduct a narrow inquiry into whether the techniques used by Social Welfare to interview crèche children in 1991 and 1992 were reliable. The Eichelbaum report found that they were.

Much of the Thorp report is about the same issue. Sir Thomas Thorp considered reports from Hamilton psychologist Barry Parsonson and Cornell University psychology professor Stephen Ceci on the crèche interviews.

He quotes Professor Ceci as saying in a report prepared in 1995 for an Assignment documentary: "This case entailed an array of factors that give me cause for concern. Children frequently reported highly implausible events that were never checked – the presence of Ellis’ mother during baths, repeated sodomy occurring only minutes apart with other children who were said to be present – and they were never reined into reality. That some of their claims were plausible is no assurance that they did not emanate from the same sources as the implausible claims."

The Thorp report urged the Justice Ministry to seek a formal opinion from Professor Ceci, because his studies of American mass-allegation crèche cases could be of particular value. But no approach was made to Professor Ceci. Sir Thomas Eichelbaum rejected a plea from Mrs. Ablett Kerr for him to consult the professor. We have to ask why.

The Ministerial Inquiry chose to hire two "pre-eminent international experts". One was a Canadian, Dr. Louise Sas. Sas is a child psychologist in private practice and is also part of the London (Ontario) Family Court Clinic, which in spite of its official sounding name is another privately owned group of consultants.

Sas has acted as witness for the crown in False (recovered) Memory in cases where men were falsely accused of incest by their spouses in child custody dispute cases.

She was lifted out of obscurity and apparently "hand picked" for the Ellis case, chosen over other more academic researchers of international renown such as Stephen Ceci and Maggie Bruck.

Interviewing of the children involved "anatomically correct" dolls, but this technique has led to wrongful convictions. The interviewers often suggestive use of the dolls, and their subjective interpretations of the children’s manipulation of the dolls, are very unreliable guides as to whether abuse took place. But Dr Sas supports their use, and the later variant of robotic animated dolls.

Commenting on a recent case in which Sas gave prosecution evidence, a defence lawyer said: "Dr. Sas can interpret every fact and every behaviour as evidence of abuse."

By hiring Sas, and limiting the review of evidence to that given at depositions and at trial, the Ministerial Inquiry was set up to be an expensive farce. Is the case parallel to Arthur Alan Thomas, which had to await the publication of David Yallop’s book to establish a Royal Commission of Inquiry? Perhaps Ellis will have to await the publication of Lynley Hood’s book "A City Possessed" due on the shelves later this year. The Eichelbaum report has confirmed in the minds of the children that they were sexually abused, when the evidence points the other way.

The case was based on hysteria and fantasy. Methods used by those who excavated "evidence" from child witnesses were unscientific, unethical and unsafe, and so was the conviction. Years later, our concerns remain, heavily underscored by similar cases overseas. Until the full spectrum of the allegations is taken into account, and questions over the lack of tangible, medical, and forensic evidence are satisfactorily answered, concern over the case will not abate.

Gordon Waugh g.waugh@clear.net.nz

A City Possessed

Linley Hood Photo: Author Linley Hood

Lynley Hood’s long awaited book about the controversial Christchurch Civic Crèche case will now be published by Dunedin based publisher Longacre Press. The book, A City Possessed, is the result of over seven year’s research by the award winning author. The book will be released later this year.

The book not only details the court case, but most importantly it lays out the events and debates which surrounded and preceded the case. By putting the case in its historical, social and political context it shows why the Civic Crèche case occurred, and why it took the shape it did.

"It’s a challenging, thought-provoking and powerfully written book," said Longacre’s managing editor Barbara Larson. "The content is fascinating, informative and disturbing. A City Possessed is a profound and important work."

The book was to have been published by Canterbury University Press, but after local “thought police” tried to censor large portions of the text, Hood was forced to find a new publisher.

Ms Hood confirmed in November that her book contract with CUP had been terminated. CUP managing editor Mike Bradstock said that Ms Hood’s manuscript exceeded the length stipulated in her contract and she would not agree to cuts.

In January, the CUP website was still listing the book among its new titles and encouraging readers to pre-order copies. The New Zealand Society of Authors complained to the University of Canterbury about CUP’s continued promotion of the Hood book.

"They are advertising a book they have no intention of publishing. It’s odd, as well as misleading," said the society’s national president Joan Rosier-Jones. "This is a very important book and Ms Hood is a well-respected and important writer."

A New Voice For Children

My name is Clayton Giles. I live in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. I’m fourteen years old. I started the Legalkids website to give children of divorce, like myself, a place to interact. On January 1, 2001, I went on a hunger strike which lasted nineteen days. This caused a great deal of commotion, with kids and adults everywhere becoming involved.

Legal Kids

All I wanted was for my dad to have custody of me. I had run away to his home a year before, but my mother still had custody. Prior to that, I had not seen my dad for three years, because my right to access was taken away from me.

In April I will start a journey. It will take me to Ottawa and on to Washington D.C. Along the way I will collect stories and signatures from kids and parents who support the right of children of divorce to have access to both parents, and for those same children to have a say in any proceedings that affect their access to either parent.

Kids seldom have any control of their lives when their parents divorce. We become property to be awarded to the parent whom the court favours. The parents get the courts to favour them by spending large sums of money on lawyers and psychologists just at the time when this money is needed to support a family which now has two households and double the expenses. In the end, the money that our parents could have spent on our family goes elsewhere.

What makes us happy is maximum contact with both parents regardless of what those parents think about each other. Is that so complicated?

Check it out: www.legalkids.com

Relief To Discover menz.org.nz

Dear Sir,

I accidentally came across menz.org.nz while searching for some family-help-type sites.

Some topics highlighted raised my brow as memories came back from a nasty relationship I had with a lady six years ago. So I started reading some of the stories, particularly the violent female ones. I couldn’t believe what I was reading, I thought, o my God! there really are people who see how it really is with the innocent! I thought I was going crazy at the time.

There was no support offered to me in this type of area, only mandatory anger management ……..for me, the guy that got assaulted.

The story goes on, and today, through my own personal strength, I can say it doesn’t affect me anymore, I can also say, (a strange way about going about it) I learnt a lesson, whew!

Anyway, the purpose of this email is with the greatest admiration, of coming across an organization that caters for people in the position I was once in.

I felt totally refreshed leaving your site, almost like it took away that final piece of disbelief I had lingering.

A great site, an excellent organization.

Yours refreshed,

Shayne.

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