Campaigning charity Families Need Fathers (FNF) has condemned last week’s joint report by Cafcass and Women’s Aid as ‘betraying the trust’ of fathers.
The report claimed that no less than 62 per cent of all applications to the courts regarding arrangements for children feature allegations of domestic violence. The figure was based on an analysis of 216 cases.
However FNF have claimed that allowing Women’s Aid to examine the case files in question was “extraordinary” and disappointing. The resulting report made no attempt to include “balancing views regarding the widespread abuse of men and boys in the context of the family courts”.
“The biggest issue is the ‘perception’ of bias. CAFCASS is a Government agency while Women’s Aid campaigns for recognition that ‘Domestic violence and abuse is a devastating form of violence against women and girls’. Understandably given their remit, Women’s Aid is not an obvious advocate for the experience of men and boys who are also victims of abuse – including the deliberate making of unfounded allegations against fathers in the context of family disputes.”
The report’s focus on allegations rather than proven cases was also problematic continued FNF. Father’s rights campaigners have worked to draw attention to the problem of unfounded allegations of domestic violence being made in order to obtain legal aid the charity alleged, and there was often little to no penalty for fabricated claims.
“Increasingly, the absurd notion of on the one side requiring the acceptance of any allegations by women as true, regardless of evidence, and at the same time promoting the belief that fathers are too dangerous to be trusted with their own children, is severely undermining today’s political agenda. The result of such malicious, unfounded allegations has been that thousands of children each year have been denied time with their much loved dads for many months, in many cases leading to the permanent loss of a good and loving parent.”
FNF called on Cafcass to become a calming influence and avoid “fuelling gender-based conflict.”
UPDATE: Cafcass contacted the Marilyn Stowe Blog with the following statement:
“Cafcass undertook this work with Women’s Aid following the release of their Nineteen Child Homicides report and recommendations for the family justice system.
Contrary to what is stated in the FNF (press) release, at no point have we ever opened confidential case files to Women’s Aid. The report makes clear that data was collected by members of Cafcass’ policy team and a National Improvement Service manager. No confidential or identifiable information was shared with Women’s Aid in the course of this research.
The report is gender-neutral, with the data showing where allegations of domestic abuse have been made by men and women. We meet regularly with Families Need Fathers and Men’s Aid and are even-handed when working with organisations who focus on the needs of particular groups. We have always recognised that men can be victims of domestic abuse.
The study explores the nature of domestic abuse allegations within the family court, particularly how this can affect children. It was not designed to make findings on allegations of domestic abuse, but to capture their prevalence, how these cases were assessed and outcomes. The research illustrates the complexity of responding to allegations within proceedings. We hope the report can act as a platform from which we and others can further understand and define the issues, and we encourage further research on this.”