wave TiVBerlin, Germany: During the “Support and protection of child witnesses of domestic violence, particularly in relation to custody and visitation rights” panel, at the 18th WAVE conference, Tanja Ignjatovic and Vanja Macanovic from the Autonomous Women’s Center held a presentation titled “Visitation rights as a mechanism for mistreatment of children and abuse of women – how institutions respond to manipulation by perpetrators of violence”.

They presented data and research on judicial practice that confirms the existence of gender prejudice among experts, and how prejudice may influence court cases focused on violence and parental rights. Data shows that due to prejudice women may be the ones accused of mistreating their child even though the man is in fact the one mistreating the child. The abuser’s coercive tactics are not recognized and not determined during these proceedings. In many cases, violence against the woman increases after separation and during divorce proceedings. Violence against women and abuse of children are usually linked, but this issue is also not investigated adequately during proceedings. Parenting rights (the right of the father/parent) become a mechanism of controlling women in these cases. Arranging the relationship between the child and its father, who was violently abusive against the child’s mother, was almost always an issue that failed to take into consideration the violence perpetrated against the woman. The assessment of what is in the child’s “best interest” did not also take into consideration that a careful assessment of security risks should be conducted – for the child and and the woman/mother.

The same subject matter was also covered by Pia Deleuran from the National Organization of Women’s Shelters (LOKK) from Denmark, and Sibylle Stotz from the Women’s Shelter in Munich, Germany. The panel was moderated by Branislava Marvanova Vargova from the WAVE Office. After the presentations were completed, panelists concluded that the situation in many European states in relation to this issue is similar, that is, that there is no adequate response by the judiciary and state services, which additionally traumatizes children and women who have already experienced violence.

More at http://fileserver.wave-network.org/home/WAVEConference2016_FINAL_14October.pdf