Thursday, March 07, 2013

Feminist professor justifies kidnapping

Feminist law professor Joan S. Meier writes in a NY Times op-ed:
LAST month Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, promised that he would soon sign an international agreement requiring the return of abducted children to their home countries. Japan is among the few industrial countries that has not joined The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, and Mr. Abe’s statement comes after pressure from the White House, the State Department and Congress.

Proponents of the convention, which the United States signed in 1981, characterize it as a means of reunifying families. And it can be. However, in practice, it often has a dark side: in many cases children and custodial mothers are being sent back to a dangerous or abusive father from whom they fled.

Data from signatory countries show that the majority of abductors are mothers with primary or joint custody, and a majority of them report fleeing abuse. In short, many abductions are actually flights to safety, necessitated by the home countries’ failure to protect victims from domestic violence and child abuse. In these cases, rather than returning children to loving and safe parents, the convention actually reunifies children and mothers with their abusers.

Research by Jeffrey Edleson, the dean of the School of Social Welfare at the University of California, Berkeley, and his colleagues shows that courts typically order children returned to fathers known to have physically abused the mother, even though such violence is an indicator of significant risk to children.
I am skeptical about this last claim, so I looked up the Edleson study:
Of the 47 disputes we studied, 22 (46.8%) resulted in dismissal or denial of the Hague petition (meaning the children remained with the respondent—usually the mother—in the U.S.). On the other hand, 20 disputes (42.6%) resulted in granting of a petition (meaning that the children were returned to the country of habitual residence). In five instances (10.6%), the outcome could not be determined because the dispute was remanded to a lower court and no subsequent opinion could be located. Table 3 summarizes these outcomes. Overall, fewer than half of the cases were decided in favor of the taking mother.
Sure, there are foreign women who come to the USA and try to claim abuse in order to get a resident visa. Sometimes the foreign father files a claim for return of his kidnapped child. And sometimes the USA court follows the treaty and returns the kidnapped child to his own country.

This study did not find any examples of abuse. It only looked at court cases where allegations were made. American courts should not be trying to resolve petty disputes between citizens of another country. If the wife wants a divorce, she can pursue that in her home country. I realize that American courts are more sympathetic to their whining than most other countries, but that does not justify kidnapping.

This op-ed is an example of a feminist law professor who justifies kidnapping in order to promote her feminist cause of mom-only child custody. She writes:
Lost in the calls for blanket returns of “abducted” children is the fact that the convention itself prioritizes children’s best interests, and therefore does not require return in every case.
No, she is wrong. The Hague convention has no nonsense about pr prioritizing best interests. It says:
requested State is not bound to order the return of the child if ...

b) there is a grave risk that his or her return would expose the child to physical or psychological harm or otherwise place the child in an intolerable situation.
The judge is not allowed to make a decision about which country or parent is better for the child. The child goes to the parent in the home country, unless there is grave risk of harm. That risk should be proved with a lot more than the mom's allegations.

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