Friday, 31 October 2008

Camilla Cavendish Knows Who The Real Villains Are….

In her column today in the ‘Times’, she outlines a disturbing (but all too familiar) case – a mother accused by social services of Munchausen’s by Proxy, now called ‘fabricated or induced illness’ (FII) on spurious grounds, according to her little boy’s surgeon, who is adamant the boy had a genuine condition. Her little boy’s custody awarded to his violent father because his mother is said to be ‘a liar’.

And then, joy of joys for the SS, a new baby from her new relationship to steal:
It is one thing for the system to decide that a boy is better off with his father than his mother. It is quite another to take a child from its parents into care. When Ann became pregnant, the council was concerned. She and Bob found its suspicion hard to bear. She tried to express this to a social worker by saying that Bob felt like killing them all if their baby was also taken away. It was a disastrous mistake. Police arrived. Bob was marched out of the house. A few days later, their baby was removed.
A classic case. And of course, all appeals are pointless, even by your MP, as the SS simply stonewall, with the help of the monstrous secrecy surrounding Family Courts:
Mr Yeo has written to the council to ask what justification there was for removing a ten-week old baby from a couple who have never been charged with an offence. The council's previous replies to his requests for information are not encouraging. Ann and Bob want their MP to know all the facts of their case, however damaging it might prove to them. Mr Yeo would treat this in confidence. But the council says that it is bound by confidentiality. It cannot disclose information about families with which it works. So Mr Yeo is in the dark. He cannot advise his constituents without seeing the files.
It’s like something out of Kafka, as Camilla acknowledges:
This story looks like an example of a Catch-22 that I have begun to notice. You could call it “once a victim, always a victim”. It is well known that if you have been in care yourself, the authorities are more likely to consider you a risk to your child, keep you under scrutiny and to put your child in care. But it appears that something similar holds true if you have suffered domestic violence. It is not illogical to keep tabs on women who have fallen for cruel, manipulative men who can harm them and their children. What is surprising is that allegations made by such men are given so much weight.
Ah, yes. It’s not the system or the people running it that are at fault! It’s those dastardly men. If only there wasn’t any weight given to their allegations. Perhaps they should be ignored. Would that help, do you think?
I do not know how widespread this phenomenon is. But too often, power seems to tip the wrong way. The abusive partner gets custody. The innocent new father loses his child.
Well, yes. Build a rotten system, give petty officials grotesque power over others, and ensure that it is all covered up by the courts under a blanket of secrecy, and that’s what will happen.

Did you think it could possibly be any different, Camilla….?
The coup de grâce seems to come when women who make the break, and manage it well, then find themselves accused of obstructing access to the children.
Well, no, actually. Aren’t you forgetting the claims of ‘FII’ used against ‘Ann’ in spite of the fact that there’s no evidence for them? And the SS’s relentless pursuit of Ann’s new child (to help those adoption figures, naturally).

And that happens to people who aren’t engaged in a custody battle too. Doesn’t that tell you something?

But no, it seems Camilla has those uppity, abusive, violent men in her sights, and is therefore blind to the reality of the fact that it’s the State that’s at fault here…

4 comments:

DJ said...

I don't necessarily read it that way. I think she's intending it as an indictment of the system that they'll treat allegations seriously even from pond scum (provided it helps their agenda_.

Anyway, she's one of the few people in the MSM prepared to take social workers on, so I'll give her a lot of slack.

JuliaM said...

Hmm, I've gone back and read it through again (in between bouts of trick 'n treaters) and though she does start off with the system in her sights, she definitely strays into the 'men are the root cause' areas later on.

TDK said...

You highlight the section:

I do not know how widespread this phenomenon is. But too often, power seems to tip the wrong way. The abusive partner gets custody. The innocent new father loses his child.

which you precede with the comment It’s those dastardly men

That doesn't make a lot of sense given that she specifically mentions the innocent new father

I think she's more even handed than you give her credit. There are some phrases in this piece that are ambiguous but that's hardly to be unexpected given the milieu that she inhabits.

Besides which, a writer like her who is measured and careful will do a lot more to end this scandal than a thousand Daily Mail articles.

JuliaM said...

"...hardly to be unexpected given the milieu that she inhabits."

She's in 'The Times', not 'The Guardian'!

"...a writer like her who is measured and careful will do a lot more to end this scandal than a thousand Daily Mail articles."

I'm not so sure. These days, the public seem only to care for rubbishy, ginned-up crusades like the Brand/Ross affair. Why isn't this generating as much heat, I wonder..?