|Written by Erin Pizzey||Monday, March 31, 2008 10:45 AM|
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Conference in Sacramento, California. February 15-16th, 2008
For once arriving at the immigration desk in LA was not the usual miserable experience. The man on the desk actually smiled at me and wished a good stay. American immigration officials usually give Americans a bad name.
I was met by Michael Robinson the organiser of the conference. He outlined the situation in America and I caught him up with what was happening in England. I knew Murray Straus would be presenting with Don Dutton. I was very much looking forward to meeting them as we met many years before. I was also looking forward to putting names to faces. Meeting Edward Bartlett and Charles Corry, to name but a few, was a heart warming experience.
The conference was generally agreed to be one of the best anyone had ever attended. It was professionally beautifully organised with the added bonus that DVD’s will be sent to all the participants at the conference. The audience were warm and appreciative. For once there was no smell of fear and contention. Men and women had come together from all over the world to agree that domestic violence is not and never has been a gender issue. There was a great regret that so many fathers all over the world had been torn from their families, denied access to their children and were accused of monstrous behaviour to the people they most loved. Some were broken by the accusations and I could see some of the fathers in the audience suffering from post traumatic stress disorder. To believe that you live in a civilized country with laws designed to protect the innocent and then to find that you can be accused overnight with the most heinous sin, that of abusing your children or your partner, with no evidence, and that you are now guilty until you prove your innocence, is enough to send even the most balanced person over the edge of sanity.
Murray Straus made a brilliant presentation and so did Don Dutton. I am hoping that the DVD’s can be put on line so everyone can have access to this historic occasion. I came away full of hope and affection for the people I met. It gave me the courage to continue on here in England and, however lonely the fight at the present, one day, and I hope it is before I die because I am seventy now, I will see a time when all children who are born into violent and dysfunctional families will find care and understanding regardless of age, gender, race, sexuality, wealth or geography.
Conference in Slovenia. March 26-28th, 2008
I knew it would be hard when I was invited to Slovenia by the Ombudswoman in Lubianja. I left the house at 5.30 am to get to Gatwick airport, dreading the days ahead. Slovenia is ringed around by beautiful snow covered mountains but the effects of the years of communism and the poverty that it brought to so much of the Eastern bloc countries is evident. So is the entrenched, communist-inspired feminist ideology. This became apparent at the first lecture when the subject of ‘gender’ came up. There was almost no point in trying to change the minds of many of the fifty plus women. The brain washing was too deep and too entrenched. What will save Slovenia is the new generation of young women who came to the hotel to interview me. They had no trouble understanding that domestic violence was not a gender issue. I brought with me the Home Office Crime Figures which proved beyond doubt that both men and women can be guilty of violence and sexual abuse.
The fathers I met told the same terrible stories of false accusations I hear all over the world. Here it is made worse because the courts take years to hear cases some of them five or seven years to reach any conclusion. Meanwhile the children grow up without their fathers and the fathers are denied the most formative years of the lives of their children.
Tommo an intrepid film maker and defender of the weak in Nubia and Darfur was accused by his partner of molesting his little daughter. He was able to prove after years of being persecuted by the feminist lawyers and so called experts that he was not even in the country when this alleged event occurred. However the memory of this suffering has scarred him as it has so many others. The gentle father who escorted me and took care of me is also accused of violence towards his partner. When his then twelve year old son insisted on moving in with him he faced charges of kidnapping. He faces a court case in April and we need to pray for him and for his family.
I had a wonderful encounter with twenty or so social workers and I shared with them my experience of the therapeutic need to care for victims of domestic violence. They agreed that it was not a gender issue. Even though some of the older women in the room chuntered and mumbled, they were out-voted by their colleagues.
I left Slovenia in tears for the fathers and their children but I hope now that after my visit a dialogue can be started that will bring change and hope to the people.
Slovenia makes the best Chardonnay I have ever tasted and the maker is called ‘cockroach’! There is a silver lining to everything.
Copyright © 2008 Erin Pizzey, All Rights Reserved
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