Today, our Hague Mothers website goes live, a focal point for an international campaign that aims to end the injustices created by The Hague Convention, specifically for mothers and children who are fleeing abusive relationships.
We have already begun to mobilise an international network of women, initially focusing on the UK, USA, and Australia. Lawyers, academics, domestic violence professionals, child psychologists, feminist groups, advocates, journalists, and Hague mothers, are contributing their time and expertise to co-design the project and build an international movement for justice.
Over the next five years, we intend to raise awareness of the Convention, among mothers who are at risk of having a Hague case brought against them, or who are facing a court hearing, and among the organisations and professionals who support them.
We’ll collate an open-access repository of good practice and key resources, and work with others to create new resources where these are needed.
High-quality domestic-violence training and guidance for judges, lawyers, and court officials, is already available in a number of jurisdictions, but it’s not obligatory. We will work to extend availability and take-up.
Where domestic violence or coercive control is involved, we hope to strengthen the exceptions to the otherwise obligatory return of children to their country of habitual residence, particularly where Article 13b (grave risk or intolerable situation) is cited as a defence.
And ultimately we hope to persuade the Hague Conference to amend the Convention in order to ensure that domestic violence is properly addressed in all cases and that its impact on the child – along with the impact of potential loss of contact with the primary carer – is fully recognised within the treaty itself.
Amplifying the voices of women – particularly those less often heard or purposefully silenced is at the heart of FiLiA’s mission, and at the heart of the Hague Mothers’ project.
There is a growing body of evidence that attests to the profound effect of domestic violence and coercive control on children, and a plethora of anecdotal evidence from mothers who have returned with their children following a Hague order. However, there is currently little formal research in to the ‘what happens next’ aftermath of a Hague judgment. Once the decision to return the child is taken, the courts have done their job. As one lawyer put it: ‘judges are not interested in justice; they just apply the law’.
A key part of the Hague Mothers’ legacy project will therefore be to create an archive of mothers’ stories – a permanent record of the often catastrophic impact of the Hague Convention on mothers and their children. We are also collating existing stories from across the world in order to ensure that mothers’ voices are not lost to history.
One of the most recent, and powerful, accounts of mothers’ experience of the Hague is Flight, Return, Silence, produced by Angela Rangecroft for Radio 4. Three mothers are interviewed. Two of them – Kim Fawcett and Anita Gera – are working with us on the Hague Mothers’ project. We are grateful for their courage and their contribution.
#Justice4HagueMothers #SolidarityWithHagueMothers #HagueMothers