(F4J) Fathers 'Ready for Prison' in Crusade for Equality

Submitted by Editor on Wed, 21/07/2004 - 13:56

More than 100 campaigners from the civil rights group Fathers 4 Justice (F4J) have said that they are prepared to go to prison in a 'Crusade for Equality' which the group is launching this summer in response to this weeks Government Green Paper on Family Law which the group has described as a 'sham'.

From: Matthew O'Connor (matt)
Date: Tue, 20 Jul 2004

Press Release 20th July 2004

The campaigners, who comprise fathers, grandparents and some mothers, have said that that the Crusade for Equality will effect the workings of both the Family Courts and the Transport Network as part of a co-ordinated campaign.

Direct action will include 'sit in' protests during court hearings, the closure of courts, further roof top protests on Family Courts and government buildings and simultaneous slow moving convoys and blockades on motorways across the country.

22 Campaigners are already facing trial later this summer for causing acts of civil disruption.

Said National Operations Co-ordinator Jason Hatch 'The Green Paper is a Sham and we will respond accordingly. If the government believes that it is going to be business as usual for the Family Courts, they are in for a particularly rude awakening. We are resolute in our determination to give every parent and grandparent a right in law to see their children and grandchildren, whatever the consequences are to us personally.'

F4J say that the Green Paper contains no new proposals and recycles the existing 1989 Children's Act:

1) The proposed "frequent and continuous" contact principle already exists in the current legislation.

2) No guidelines for the minimum amount of contact a non-resident parent should have with their children are included.

3) Voluntary Mediation or 'Advice Sessions' as they are now being called, already exist. Cafcass will now run them despite being condemned by a Parliamentary Enquiry for failing children.

4) The enforcement of Court Orders can easily be done already should the Judge wish to enforce the order with a range of sanctions. Other tariff's such as community service should have been introduced as an alternative long ago.

5) The herding of fathers at the centre of contact disputes into more Contact Centres merely perpetuates the government's belief that fathers are 'McDads' - fathers stripped of any rights and who can only see their kids in McDonald's fast food outlets or in Contact Centres. In effect fathers are now second class parents to their children.

Said F4J Founder Matt O'Connor, 'This Green Paper is like emptying a tanker full of petrol onto a burning house and creating an inferno. We expected the government to respond in this way and we are now prepared to implement our Crusade for Equality which may see many of us go to prison.'

'This paper demonstrates how anti-father the government is. It is recycling existing legislation and spinning it as reform, only dropping it into the mix just as summer recess for Parliament begins to stifle debate. This is the shabbiest form of politicking - and this in the week where Blair launched a 5 year plan to combat anti-social behaviour yet they can't make the link between fatherlessness and the explosion in young offending.'

'What surprises us is that the Government's position seems to have been hijacked.  Last year the Department for Constitutional Affairs last had a clear desire to bring about change.  Now, we have proposals where the best interests of our children are being used to further a feminist prejudice from certain corners of the Government.

'The supreme irony this week is that on the one-hand Government announces that it will tackle the causes of crime but, thanks to Ms. Hodge and others, is helping to further the culture of fatherlessness that leads to crime.'

'It now falls to Tony Blair rescue this mess, to show that he's in charge of his Government and to show that he really puts children and families first. He must act to put Government thinking back on track and to honour his claim made in March that Courts should presume that fit parents share the parenting of their children.'




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