MENZ Issues

Media Bias Concerning Family Court

The injustice shown to men over the decades since the inception of the Family Court and the abuse done by that Court to children’s relationships with their fathers (and therefore to the children themselves) have been largely ignored by our media. Exposure of the Court’s sexism against men relied mainly on individual men’s letters to the editor that were often not even published, and if they were the paper would often arrange for an article to appear in the same edition reporting unsubstantiated claims by some male-hating group such as Women’s Refuge. Publicity was occasionally given to fathers’ protests outside Family Courts and Court workers’ homes but focused more on the complaints about protesters’ behaviour than on the concerns driving the protesters. On the rare occasion that news media gave voice to fathers’ concerns and experiences the stories would always include comments in reply sought from feminist spokespersons.

Despite the odds being so firmly stacked against fathers from news media to the very fabric of ‘family’ law and Family Court functioning, men’s movement efforts have led to positive changes in the law and application of it. Father’s ongoing contact with children is now given a higher priority by most if not all judges (although ‘every second weekend’ is still often seen as sufficient).

So what has happened in our news media since these marginal changes in Family Court attitudes? This. We are now seeing regular articles, many more than were ever published about men’s issues, giving voice to complaints by women dissatisfied with Family Court decisions even though the statistics show that decisions still significantly favour mothers. Women’s claims are reported without caution, background checking or any opportunity for the other party to respond. Society’s tendency to be sympathetic and protective towards women is fully exploited by the wording of these pro-female articles that tend to avoid accurate information and useful analysis.

This latest salvo on behalf of feminism begins with a tear-jerking account of a woman who ‘watched her grandmother die over the internet after a custody order prevented her from leaving New Zealand with her young son’. No information is given about the age of the young son or what might have been achieved by him being able to watch his great-grandmother die in person. No mention is made of the fact that this mother was fully at liberty to travel back to Malaysia to see her grandmother at any time; she just wasn’t able to take the child without the NZ father’s agreement. (How totally unreasonable to give any father a say in such matters.) We don’t know whether there was a non-removal order in place and if so what were the grounds for this, or whether the mother actually made any Court application to take her son to see the great-grandmother. The article mentioned only that she arrived at Court too late to file an application to take her son to the funeral, and implied that she should for some reason have been given special or magical treatment concerning the Court’s ability to schedule hearings as it suited her.

The article made no mention of the frequency with which mothers abduct children to the mother’s country of origin, or the difficulty and expense involved for fathers to try to get their children back or even to see their children ever again even when international laws allow for this. No mention is made of the fact that Malaysia is not a signatory to the Hague Convention on International Child Abductions, meaning that it would be almost impossible for this particular father to have his child returned should the mother choose to stay there. Rather than any contextual, factual information, the journalist preferred instead to air this mother’s opinion that the father’s preferences were ‘more about power’ than the best interests of their son. Ah yes, the patriarchal power and control myth, what a novel and newsworthy idea.

The low level of accuracy in this news article was clear from the first paragraph in its reference to a ‘custody order’. There is no such thing as a custody order, the concept of ‘custody’ having long been removed from our family law.

It appears this Herald on Sunday journalist Kirsty Wynn communicated with the well-known feminist propaganda merchant Dr Vivienne Elizabeth and ‘uncovered’ several cases while ‘looking into custody disputes’. We don’t know whether Dr Elizabeth made the first contact on behalf of these complaining women or whether the story was stimulated in some other way, but Ms Wynn saw it as sufficient to interview only this one heavily biased feminist academic in her process of ‘looking into custody disputes”.

Ms Wynn went on to give voice to the claims of two other disgruntled female litigants, again with no shred of investigative journalism to assess the veracity of their claims. The first alleged that the father withheld food from their children (perhaps he refused to buy them junk food one time, what a monster) and that he physicallly and sexually abused them but ‘nothing had been done’ about this. (Yeah right, the authorities simply ignore physical and sexual abuse of children especially when done by men. And if any woman in a Family Court dispute alleges such abuse that should be enough evidence to convict him and to wreck his children’s relationship with him. How dare anyone doubt or investigate any woman’s claims?!) This mother went on to claim that children are not being kept safe. She will be right about that; her children may well need more protection from her malicious allegations and efforts to wreck their relationships with their father.

Dr Elizabeth and/or Ms Wynn had to trawl the bottom of the barrel for the third and final disgruntled female litigant’s story. Apparently, her children didn’t want to live with their father and the Court wanted a psychological assessment concerning this even though counsel for child had told her such assessment would do more harm than good. That apparently showed that the Family Court was now ‘more about the father’s rights than what is good for the child’. Journalist Ms Wynn could easily have contacted someone from the fathers’ or men’s movement and in a 10-minute phone conversation she would have gained useful information about parental alienation and the importance of assessing this when children reject one parent, and about the problem of lawyers for child giving psychological opinions and otherwise acting well outside their role, training and expertise.

In that 10-minute telephone conversation Ms Wynn could also have been directed to dozens of cases in which men and their children have been treated unjustly by the Family Court. Every one of those cases would be much more convincing than those of the three disgruntled women publicized in her article.

The fact is that without-notice protection orders continue to be slapped mainly on men on the basis of allegations unaccompanied by any shred of corroborating evidence even when such evidence would be easy to obtain. Women’s affidavits will allege telephone harassment without supporting telephone records, ‘financial abuse’ without supporting bank records, and physical abuse without supporting medical records. Yet without any warning or right of reply the targetted men suddenly have protection orders against them, restricting their contact with their children, forcing them out on to the street without access to their possessions, and forcing them under threat of imprisonment to attend ‘anger management’ courses. (In the rare cases that protection orders are placed on women, they attend ‘women empowerment’ programmes, highlighting just how pro-female and anti-male our family law system is!) It is left up to the targetted man to refute the woman’s allegations with telephone, bank and other records proving the woman lied through her teeth, yet the Court will do nothing about her perjury and act as though the rest of what she says is still trustworthy. Such pro-female bias has been and continues to be typical in Family Court disputes, yet media ignore injustice to men and instead regale us mainly with articles about women complaining how unfair the Family Court is towards them.