Coalition for Safe Families - Anti Fathers' Group Propaganda
Text of a flier handed out at the 2001 Father & Child Trust Social Policy Forum by members of the Coalition for Safe (ie: fatherless) Families and Rape Crisis, and at a Union of Fathers demonstration in Cuba Mall by Paul Prestige, Executive Officer of the National Network of Stopping Violence Services.
Paul Prestige, Executive Officer of the National Network of Stopping Violence Services staging his one-man counter protest.
"Men's rights" groups in New Zealand - What is the truth?
the last year there has been a lot of debate about Family Court matters, the
rights of parents and the needs of children.
There has been criticism of laws, which
are designed to protect women and children from violence in the home. Some
men’s rights groups argue that the family court needs to be opened up, a few
politicians want to give greater custody rights to fathers, others advocate
cutting access to the DPB, a benefit which is vital for single mothers and their
Some of the strongest criticisms have
come from “fathers’ rights” groups who have put forward a number of claims
through public protest and in the media. But
are they true?
The Family Court is unfair to men
About 90% of custody and/or access cases in the Family
Court are settled by agreement between the parties without any need for a
decision by a Judge. In 2000 the Family Court processed 11,300 cases involving
the care of children after parents separated. Only 1,150 of those cases remained
unresolved after counselling and mediation. Some of those cases would have
settled before the Court was required to make a decision (source: Open Letter,
July 2001 www.familylaw.org.nz
Women are generally the main caregivers for children before separation. If women are also the main caregivers for children after separation, this reflects a continuation of pre-separation arrangements.
claim that the family court is biased against men has been consistently rejected
by Chief Family Court Judge Patrick Mahoney (see, Evening Post article, 7
August 2001, page 7), who says that the only bias in the Family Court is in
favour of children. This “bias” in favour of children is required by section
23(1) of the Guardianship Act, which requires that the Court “regard the
welfare of the child as the first and paramount consideration” in cases
involving custody, access or guardianship.
The Domestic Violence Act is unfair to men
The Domestic Violence Act, in itself, is gender-neutral
legislation (it covers women, children and men in domestic relationships,
including family relationships such as parents and children, and same sex
relationships). Domestic violence, including abuse of children, is a serious
problem in New Zealand. The Domestic Violence Act provides effective protection
for the victims of domestic violence and is supported by those working in this
area, such as Womens Refuge and Violence Intervention Programmes.
It has been argued that because protection orders and other parts of the Domestic Violence Act are used mainly by women this is a demonstration of the Act's bias. However the New Zealand Law Commission's Report ("Some Criminal Defences with Particular Reference to Battered Defendants Defendants”) states "The approach throughout this project has been gender neutral. It is incontestable, however that the large majority of adult victims of serious domestic violence have been women and their abusers have been men.
Women are more violent than men
The research that the men’s rights groups quote is
based on a type of surveying called the conflict tactic scales. This type of
research measures acts of violence used by husband or wife in conflict
resolution but not their cause. For example was an act of violence used in
self-defence or to control and intimidate someone? Equally this type of research
ignores effect: a slap that breaks someone’s jaw or causes them to fail down
the stairs is reported as
equal to a slap that may not leave a mark. The creators of this type of
research have since acknowledged its shortcomings in painting a real picture of
domestic violence. (See Lollies at a
Children’s Party and other Myths: Violence, protection orders and fathers
rights groups. Miranda Kaye and Julie Tolmie)
In New Zealand National Crime
Statistics, police call out data and criminal victimisation surveys all give a
very high proportion of men as perpetrators and women as victims of domestic
violence. Also studies show that women have a significantly increased risk of
injury from domestic disputes compared to men (See Law Commission report “Some Criminal Defences with Particular Reference to Battered
Claim: The children of absent fathers are disadvantaged
claims made by Men’s Rights Groups about the adverse effects on children of an
absent father are misleading. They focus on men’s rights rather than the
welfare of children and the rights of children to be treated as individuals with
individual needs and wishes.
Firstly, if parents separate, the vast
majority of children continue to have contact with both their father and their
mother either by simple agreement or Family Court order.
the research quoted by Men’s Rights Groups usually comes from overseas where
father absence has been due to adoption, desertion or death of the father.
Fathers who want contact with their children will almost always be supported in
this in New Zealand. The main exception will be where contact puts children at
risk of violence or abuse. The research on the adverse effects on children of
domestic violence is overwhelming (see, for example the summary in Butterworths Family
Law in New Zealand 9th edition Volume 1, page 523).
research (David Fergusson’s Christchurch Health and Development Study) shows
that the “evidence certainly does not support strong claims that single
parenthood or father absence make a major contribution to the educational
achievement or social adjustment of children. ... [I]t would be unwise to
elevate single parenthood or father absence to being either a major cause of
childhood difficulties or being a key policy variable in addressing these
by the Coalition for Safe Families
|Distributed by Paul Prestige
National Network of Stopping Violence Services
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