Despite having no credible evidence, Pauline Hanson recently called for an inquiry into the Family Court System, claiming that “women lie about domestic violence to get kids in Family Court disputes.”
Her statements were not only victim-blaming and highly insensitive to survivors of domestic violence, they were false. In fact, evidence strongly suggests that the opposite is true; men are far more likely than women to make false allegations of domestic violence.
Researcher Jess Hill and author of a book about false allegations in Canada titled “See what you made me do” found that non-custodial parents, usually fathers, make the highest number of false abuse allegations. According to Hill, fathers were responsible for 43% of false allegations, followed by neighbours and relatives at 19% and mothers at 14%.
In Australia, the number of women subjected to domestic violence far outweighs the number of men.
As of the 22nd of October, 46 women have been murdered in 2019 at the hands of violent men. On average, 1 woman a week is killed by a current or former partner.
Furthermore, statistics show that women are nearly three times more likely to experience domestic violence at the hands of an intimate partner.
This evidence clearly disproves Hanson’s claim.
Despite this, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has approved the inquiry, which is to be headed by Pauline Hanson and Kevin Andrews, a social conservative whose sole mission is to “put women back in their place”. Hayley Foster, chief executive of Women’s Safety NSW, has emphasised that an inquiry led by Andrews would further undermine the safety of Women and Children.
The inquiry is to ostensibly examine the claims of false abuse allegations against former partners, the cost of the court process and the onus of proof needed to obtain an Apprehended Violence Order (AVO).
This expensive exercise, which will deny the gendered nature of domestic violence, has been granted to Pauline even though there have recently been two notable inquiries held into the Family Law system. A report following the 2017 Inquiry into domestic violence and family law made 33 recommendations, most of which have not been implemented. The report found that women are often diminished or disbelieved when making abuse allegations and are often forced to sign consent orders which they fear will endanger their children.
Pauline Hanson has already made up her mind that women are ‘lying’ and ‘vindictive’ in their complaints. Consequently, female victims of domestic violence may feel apprehensive about making submissions to the inquiry in fear of being disbelieved. This will create an imbalance where the voices of women will be inadequately heard.
The detrimental effects of domestic violence on women are well documented. Survivors often develop feelings of shame, self-blame and hopelessness as well as mental illnesses such as anxiety, depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Hanson’s comments are dangerous as they may further discourage women from speaking up about their experiences, leading to more innocent women being injured or murdered.
It is irrational that female survivors of domestic violence are still being disbelieved.
Women’s Advocacy Groups ‘Fair Agenda’ and the ‘Australian Women Against Violence Alliance’ have set up a campaign calling on MPs to abandon the Hanson-Andrews led inquiry.
The campaign has had overwhelming support, with over 7000 individual letters having now been sent to Parliamentarians calling on them to abandon the Inquiry and urgently implement existing recommendations with a focus on safety.
If you would like to get involved and support this campaign, click here: https://fair-agenda.good.do/familylawinquiry/email/?fbclid=IwAR13YQ5cuL9-4UcWS9bcKr7avHCXTcDbORhSp4JDPVOM-jkKEZqecfYk8AY
If you need assistance with a legal matter or to speak with a lawyer about a family law/domestic violence issue, contact the team at Gowland Legal on (02) 9569 3000.
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