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Tuesday, October 10, 2006

What is the law for?

I read in the Irish Daily Mirror a heart-rending tale of a Belfast mum who has been separated from her only child.

Her bloke took the child and legged it to his homeland of Algeria, whence there is no chance of his extradition.

Dawn Andrew's helplessness in the face of the fact that her child has been effectively abducted from her makes you wonder - what is the law for if it can't prevent things like this occurring, or at least fix them once they've happened?

Anyone who remembers the Chancery opening of 'Bleak House' by Charles Dickens will recall the physical and metaphorical fog that surrounds it. The Nineteenth Century British law court was a cold, bewildering house for the common man to find himself in.

In those days, there was one law to protect the rich, and no law for the poor except the aforementioned 'Don't fuck with the money people' law.

Divorce, as another Dickens novel depicts it, was unknown for ordinary people. They had to stick together in shitty marriages even though it was hundreds of years since one of their kings had slaughtered his way through a series of wives, divorcing some of them and even founding his own religion accidentally as a result.

Of course, these days we can get a divorce in most civilised countries. It didn't come through some respect for the rights of the individual, though. It came through the feminist movement, which saw divorce, like contraception and the torching of lingerie, as part of the armoury required to establish the liberty of women.

Now, in many places, women are still no more than chattel. Try walking through Mogadishu or Tehran in a bikini and see what happens if you doubt that. But we don't often hear a lot from feminists about the legal rights of the sisterhood when the sisters happen to be dark-skinned, Muslim and from outside the Western World.

Instead, they're keener on tweaking the laws in Western Europe and North America to protect the rights they gained for themselves and to prevent the overhaul of antique laws here that give them an artificial advantage over menfolk.

As a singular example, I offer child custody. Four decades or more since the countercultural wave of feminism, I still hear no outcry from women about why men don't get to look after the children after divorce or separation.

I do hear them demanding ever more state funding for creche and kindergarten places, where working mommy can leave her little one in the care of a third party all day. And I hear them demanding the house from departed Dad to raise the kids in. Not to mention a stipend of his wages from here to eternity, no matter whose fault the separation was.

But I don't hear any calls for the radical overhaul of child custody and family laws from that quarter. Why? Because the old patriarchal assumption that raising kids is women's work suits them on this occasion.

Now, men moved over in the workplace to accommodate women in the last century. Sure, it took a few millennia. Sure, it probably only happened because women got to vote, then were needed to work in factories because men went to war yet again. Men are dumb, they like fighting and they kept women suppressed for a long, long time. We know this already.

But men love their children, and cannot understand why, after four decades, the feminist movement and women in general have decided to fail their kids by refusing to move over in the home and accommodate men who want to look after their kids.

I've met guys who separated from the mothers of their children and had to move into a one room flat or back with their parents in their Forties and even Fifties because Mom got the house in the separation, because they had kids, and well... kids should go with mom, don't they?

Not necessarily true. There are endless statistics to indicate that children raised by single mothers do worse at school, are more likely to become involved in delinquency, drugs, alcohol abuse and get in trouble with the law. This is not to say that there aren't great people raised by brave and steadfast women on their own. But the trends indicate that raising your kids in a one-parent atmosphere can be deleterious to their upbringing.

But it gets more interesting than that. Not many people realise that children are many, many times more likely to be sexually abused by the new partner of their mother than they are by their father. This fact gets lost in screaming tabloid tales of men who preyed on their offspring.

Even more interesting is that when children are raised with their father as sole parent, they tend to do better than average on all of the same indices that their peers raised by Mom do worse at. Like school performance, academic achievement, avoidance of substance abuse or lawbreaking.

Don't believe me? You don't have to. You should dip into Adrienne Burgess' book 'Fatherhood Reclaimed' and read her research for yourself. A lifelong feminist, she set out to do a number on deadbeat Dads who leave their partners and kids in the lurch to go drinking and whoring.

Instead, she happened across the biggest social scandal in our modern times - the inflicted divorce of children from their fathers by women and the antiquated legal system that still assumes Mom knows best.

Her book should have caused an outcry when it was first released a decade ago. Instead, it was ignored, and we raised a generation of ASBO-achieving hoodies.

And those deadbeat Dads - a term incidentally that is way past its sell-by-date now? Well, in Britain and Ireland many of them are trying and failing to get to see their children, unable to force the mother to facilitate their relationship with their kids even with a court order, because no judge wants to be seen in the press sending a Mommy to jail.

But dare he miss a maintenance payment, there's a court order on his property, and the relevant government agency will be docking cash from his payslip.

Other dads are unable to even establish where their children are, after their mothers skipped the country with them in tow. Thousands spent on detectives and trips to foreign countries looking in vain for their children, trying to guess their height, their look now they're older.

But the mainstream media would rather depict endless stories of distraught Mommies like the one above, who stupidly got involved with someone from a fundamentalist Muslim background and a dusty foreign land, then were gobsmacked when he didn't return to their council flat with the kids after a holiday in Dar al-Islam.

We are told that Mommies are the victims, not Daddies. Daddies are cash cows to be milked and ignored. Except when they are morons in superhero outfits getting in tabloid trouble.
And people wonder why the male suicide rate is through the roof.

We need a radical overhaul of our legal system in this regard or we need to rethink what civilisation means. We are involved in a massive and unprecedented experiment involving the mass deprivation of fathers for children. The early results are in, and it is not an experiment that we should continue.

If this mass shortchanging of the next generation is not sufficient to convince the powers that be to change the duplicitous, overbalanced and secretive legal system on the issue of childcare, then perhaps men should start converting to Islam and take their little ones on an extended holiday to Algeria.

If it doesn't rectify injustice, but institutionalises it instead, what's the law for anyway?


lil_noale said...

Whatever the law's outcome it is the children that suffers. Custody is such a sensitive word tho, children are not possessions. Btw thanks for your comment on my blog.

JC Skinner said...

Custody is a legal term, and it is in that sense that I use it. Children certainly aren't possessions, even if some legal systems still seem to think so, and like little Molly in Scotland recently, children can have dramatic ways of demonstrating that they are their own people.

Anonymous said...

I just love the fact that it is generally the concept of removal from the UK to some foreign country (aka Shithole) that gets the Tricia Show watchers all worked up!! It's rarely about parenting...always about patriotism!


JC Skinner said...

Very true, especially in the recent case of young Molly, who clearly wanted to live with Dad in Pakistan, in a huge mansion, as a Muslim, rather than in a council house on a windswept Scottish Isle with her drinker Mum.
But the hypocrisy that I don't get is the gender one. It's not okay for men to take their kids without Mom's consent, as that's abduction.
But it is okay for women to take the kids without men's consent. That's called the family court's judgement.