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Discriminatory Law

Atualizado: 7 de jan. de 2023


Paola Motosi


In a society based on oppressive and violent perspectives that are legitimated by discriminatory concepts such as feminazi, parental alienation and the belief in high numbers of false allegations of sexual abuse, women, in Brazil, have to cope with the dangers of living in a country occupying tragic global ranks of domestic violence, femicide and child sexual abuse. Numbers that may be related to the impossibility of a mother, victim of domestic violence, to find legal support in a judicial system that treats the controversial concept of parental alienation as the norm, through the so-called Parental Alienation Law, in force since 2010, imposing punishments for supposedly false reports against men, thus subjecting reports of domestic violence that lack the sufficient evidences to be considered as acts of parental alienation, leading survivors of domestic abuse to face the parental alienation law main threat: the switch of child custody to the alleged abuser.


However, the supporters of this law, which have been explicitly designed with the aim of eliminating an assumed epidemic of false accusations of child sexual abuse, did not take into account that such veiled oppression of women and children could not hide one unquestionable evidence: the numbers of women and children killed inside their own homes. Victims of abusers who have been encouraged by the impunity motivated by a State that establishes and maintains discriminatory laws that guarantee the perpetuation of the violation of women and children's rights.


Twelve women are murdered every day in Brazil, representing 40% of the total number of femicides in the entire Latin American and Caribbean region and, according to the OAS, most of them are victims of domestic violence. Seven thousand children and adolescents are violently murdered every year in Brazil, mostly as a result of domestic violence. Forty-five thousand boys and girls are victims of sexual abuse in the country each year. Even so, the State insists on maintaining a law proposed under the justification that at least 30% of these complaints would be false. Complaints that, according to some public agents, would be motivated by revengeful feelings of women who do not accept the end of relationships. It is definitely difficult to understand the mathematics behind a law bill that was able to cause such negative impact while lacking any official statistical data to support its claimed urgency.


The concept of parental alienation is considered to be a tool for domestic violence and child sexual abuse perpetration and, amongst the several international warnings about the risks in accepting such concept in child custody disputes, the United Nations declared in 2019, through the EDVAW Platform, that “Accusations of parental alienation by abusive fathers against mothers must be considered as a continuation of power and control by state agencies and actors, including those deciding on child custody.”


The fact that the Brazilian State has a law based on a theory that has been the recurrent concern of many human rights protection organizations is not only surprising, and it does not only put Brazilian women and children at risk, it is a global threat. It sets precedents for other nations to feel comfortable in legislating in a misogynistic and oppressive way. It allows courts beyond our borders to use this same concept, it encourages this legal form of gender discrimination. It entitles other countries to treat women in this very same way, disregarding Brazil's worrisome rates of violence against women and children.


A State that stablished the age consent as 14 years old, criminalized abortion and even requires a father's consent in order for a woman to issue a child's passport, the Parental Alienation Law eventually fulfills this patriarchal project of keeping women and children subjected to parental laws that go beyond their right to protect themselves or their children from an abuser. "In a country where 10 women are killed every day as a result of domestic violence, families who are victims of domestic violence need laws that help to protect them, not legislation that puts them at further risk."


And for those who still disbelieve on the bad reputation of the parental alienation, here are some examples:


. BRAZIL: UN EXPERTS URGE NEW GOVERNMENT TO TARGET VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN AND GIRLS, REPEAL PARENTAL ALIENATION LAW


04 November 2022


"The law has led to the proliferation of the application of the parental alienation theory by family courts – despite the lack of clinical or scientific legitimacy. The law has also largely enabled fathers accused of domestic violence and abuse to successfully levy false allegations against the mothers with whom they are in custody battles or disputes.

Family courts regularly dismiss allegations of sexual abuse of the children brought forward by the mothers against their fathers or stepfathers, disbelieving and punishing mothers, including through the loss of custody rights to their children."


. THE COMMITTEE OF EXPERTS OF THE MESECVI AND THE SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR ON VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN AND GIRLS OF THE UNITED NATIONS EXPRESS THEIR CONCERN ABOUT THE ILLEGITIMATE USE OF THE CONCEPT OF PARENTAL ALIENATION SYNDROME AGAINST WOMEN


August 12, 2022


"The Committee of Experts and the Special Rapporteur have learned of multiple cases throughout the region where justice bodies take into account parental alienation syndrome resulting in denying the mother custody of her children, thereby awarding it to the father accused of family violence or insisting on shared custody with the violent father even in cases where the children and the mother are at serious risk. This situation may also result in the mother being forced to change her country of residence so that the father who exercises violence can live with the children.

The use of this controversial concept of parental alienation syndrome against women in cases where they denounce gender-based violence against themselves or against their daughters and sons is part of the continuum of gender-based violence and could invoke the responsibility of States for institutional violence."


. 3RD GENERAL REPORT ON GREVIO'S ACTIVITIES- DOMESTIC VIOLENCE: COUNTRIES SHOULD IMPROVE CHILD CUSTODY SAFETY AND VICTIM PROTECTION (REPORT)

15 July 2022


“ 'Parental alienation' minimising evidence of domestic violence in civil proceedings: The minimisation of domestic violence within family court processes is closely linked to an increasing use of the concept of “parental alienation” to undermine views of child victims of domestic violence who fear contact with domestic abuse perpetrators, despite obvious risks for both adult and child victims. The report cites studies finding that claims of so-called parental alienation are being used to negate allegations of domestic and sexual abuse and that in many cases involving indications or findings of domestic abuse, these concerns ‘disappeared’ once the focus was on this concept."



. SPAIN: UN EXPERTS DENOUNCE CHILD CUSTODY DECISION THAT IGNORES EVIDENCE OF SEXUAL ABUSE

28 February 2022


“ 'Such reasoning clearly derives from the use of the pseudo theory of parental alienation, despite its application being banned in Spain by a 2021 law', the experts said. Parental alienation, while lacking credible scientific support, reflects the belief that when a child fears or avoids a parent, it is due to the other parent’s influence, rather than the child’s own experiences.

UN experts have previously called on Spain’s Government to do more to protect children from domestic violence and sexual abuse, ensure its courts overcome biases against women, and apply a gender-sensitive, child-centered approach."


. SPANISH COURTS MUST PROTECT CHILDREN FROM DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AND SEXUAL ABUSE, SAY UN EXPERTS

09 December 2021


"The theory of parental alienation, while lacking credible scientific support, reflects the idea that when a child fears or avoids a parent, it is due to the other parent’s influence, rather than the child’s own experiences. While the parental alienation concept is theoretically gender-neutral, research carried out in Spain and opinions of experts following the issue have demonstrated that in a number of countries, including Spain, mothers have been regularly accused of resorting to 'parental alienation', accusing the fathers of their children wrongly of committing child abuse in custody litigation."


. THE IMPACT OF INTIMATE PARTNER VIOLENCE AND CUSTODY RIGHTS ON WOMEN AND CHILDREN


European Parliament resolution


6 October 2021


"whereas two of the most prestigious institutions on mental health, the World Health Organization and the American Psychological Association, reject the use of the so called parental alienation syndrome and similar concepts and terms, since they can be used as a strategy against victims of violence by putting into question the victims’ parental skills, dismissing their word and disregarding the violence to which children are exposed; whereas according to the EDVAW Platform recommendation, accusations of parental alienation by abusive fathers against mothers must be considered as a continuation of power and control by state agencies and actors, including those deciding on child custody1;" (pg.8)


"Prevention: addressing gender stereotypes and biases – education and awareness raising


41. Expresses its concern about the impact of gender stereotypes and bias leading to inadequate responses to gender-based violence against women and to a lack of trust in women, in particular concerning presumed false allegations of child abuse and of domestic violence; is also concerned about the lack of specific training for judges, prosecutors and law professionals; stresses the importance of measures aimed at combating gender stereotypes and patriarchal biases through education and awareness raising campaigns; calls on the Member States to monitor and fight the culture of denigration of women’s voices; condemns the use, assertion and acceptance of nonscientific theories and concepts in custody cases which punish mothers who attempt to report cases of child abuse or gender-based violence by preventing them from obtaining custody or by restricting their parental rights; stresses that so-called parental alienation syndrome and similar concepts and terms, which are generally based on gender stereotypes, can work to the detriment of women victims of intimate partner violence by blaming mothers for their children’s ‘alienation’ from their father, calling into question victims’ parental skills, disregarding the children’s testimony and the risks of violence to which their children are exposed, and jeopardising the rights and safety of the mother and children; calls on the Member States not to recognise parental alienation syndrome in their judicial practice and law and to discourage or even to prohibit its use in court proceedings, particularly during investigations to determine the existence of violence;" (pg.21)


· MID-TERM HORIZONTAL REVIEW OF GREVIO BASELINE EVALUATION REPORTS


10 May 2021


“338. GREVIO has addressed the authorities’ use of the so-called principle of “parental alienation syndrome”541 in its baseline evaluation report on France,542 and thereafter in a number of recent reports, namely the baseline evaluation reports on Andorra, Belgium, Italy, and Spain.543 In this respect, GREVIO consistently called for the relevant professionals to be informed of the absence of scientific grounds for the “parental alienation syndrome”, and, in the case of Italy, for banning its use.” (pg.117)


· COUNCIL OF EUROPE CONVENTION ON PREVENTING AND COMBATING VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE


Recommendation on the implementation of the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence by Belgium

IC-CP/Inf(2020)8

Adopted on 15 December 2020

Published on 18 December 2020

10. take the necessary measures, whether of a legal nature or through additional training and the adoption of guidelines, to ensure that in the determination of custody and visitation rights, the competent authorities are required to consider all issues relating to violence against women and its harmful effect on children, inter alia by

(a) assessing the risk that custody and visitation rights may present to children witnessing intimate partner violence or experiencing violence themselves;

(b) making use of existing legal provisions offering a basis to limit custody and visitation rights of perpetrators where incidents of violence have been ascertained; and

(c) raising awareness of the lack of a scientific basis for the notion of “parental alienation syndrome” and sensitize the public to this issue (paragraph 150).



· UN - SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR ON VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN, ITS CAUSES AND CONSEQUENCES

Mandatos de la Relatora Especial sobre la violencia contra la mujer, sus causas y consecuencias; y del Grupo de Trabajo sobre la discriminación contra las mujeres y las niñas - 25 de septiembre de 2020

ESPANHA

“Se informa que se ha aplicado a la Sra. Costumero el supuesto « Síndrome de Alienación Parental (SAP) » y que ha debido aceptar una intervención y tratamiento psicológico, social y educativo para “curarse(pg.1)

Asimismo, nos preocupa el uso del presunto Síndrome de Alienación Parental (SAP), contra las madres y la falta de credibilidad que algunos tribunales otorgan al testimonio de los niños y niñas cuando la madre denuncia abusos hacia el menor por parte del padre. Los mecanismos legislativos actuales y futuros no abordan adecuadamente la consideración que debe acordarse a la existencia de violencia doméstica a la hora de determinar la custodia de los hijos. (pg.2)


Diversas partes interesadas también informaron al Grupo de Trabajo de que a menudo se interpretaba que el interés superior del niño requería una normalización de la relación con el padre, y que con frecuencia se concedían derechos de visita y custodia a los padres pese a la existencia de pruebas de que habían cometido actos de violencia doméstica. Asimismo, se sigue utilizando el llamado "síndrome de alienación parental" para retirar la custodia de los hijos a la madre y concedérsela al padre acusado de violencia doméstica que solicita la custodia por esa razón, en muchos casos con el apoyo de una organización de defensa de los derechos de los padres. El “síndrome de alienación parental” sigue siendo reconocido en el sistema de justicia, a pesar del dictamen emitido en 2013 por el Consejo General del Poder Judicial que, en su Guía de Criterios rechaza la validez de esta teoría pseudocientífica y se opone firmemente a su uso en los casos de violencia basada en el género. El Grupo de Trabajo no puede dejar de expresar su preocupación por el hecho de que las lecciones del caso presentado ante la CEDAW mencionado más arriba no se hayan incorporado plenamente en la legislación y en la práctica. Urge la necesidad de que todas las recomendaciones del Comité para la Eliminación de la Discriminación contra la Mujer se apliquen plenamente y de inmediato.”


· GREVIO’s (Baseline) Evaluation Report on legislative and other measures


giving effect to the provisions of the Council of Europe Convention


on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence

ANDORRA

Adopted by GREVIO on 15 October 2020

3. Custody and visitation rights (Article 31)

“31. GREVIO strongly encourages the Andorran authorities to take the necessary measures, including legislative amendments, to ensure that: (paragraph 151)

c. the professionals concerned, particularly those working in the justice system, the social services and the medical, psychological and psychiatric sector, are alerted to the lack of any scientific foundation for “parental alienation syndrome” and related concepts which lend themselves to being used to minimise and conceal violence against women.

It should be possible to measure progress in this field through data, particularly judicial data, illustrating how the courts and professionals concerned consider incidents of violence and motivate their decisions.”


· EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT - POLICY DEPARTMENT FOR CITIZENS’ RIGHTS AND CONSTITUTIONAL AFFAIRS DIRECTORATE-GENERAL FOR INTERNAL POLICIES

PE 650.336

April 2020

4.1. The effect of gender violence on custody and visiting rights

4.1.1. UN Legal framework

“Lastly, the recourse to the phenomenon of the “parental alienation syndrome” also works to the detriment of victims of intimate partner violence. Although the notion lacks universal clinical or scientific definition, it is generally referred to the presumption that a child’s fear or rejection of one parent (typically the non-custodial parent), stems from the malevolent influence of the preferred (typically custodial) parent. In the context of intimate partner violence, the reference to parental alienation syndrome gave rise to a tendency to put into question victims’ parental skills and to dismiss their word and to underestimate the violence to which children are exposed. It is for that reasons that experts raise serious concerns to making recourse to this phenomenon as It could be misused if applied without taking into consideration incidents of violence against women and that the exercise of any visitation or custody rights does not jeopardize the rights and safety of the victim or children.116 It is argued that accusations of parental alienation by abusive fathers against mothers must be considered as a continuation of power and control by state agencies and actors, including those deciding on child custody. leading often to the denial of child custody to the mother and grant it to a father accused of domestic violence in a manner that totally disregards the possible risks for the child.” (pg.35 e 36)


Addressed to Portugal


“It is also argued that the judicial system uses parental alienation and the syndrome of parental alienation theory to render decisions against mothers. It is for the above reasons that GREVIO479 and other stakeholders have permanently urged to take the necessary measures, including legislative ones, to ensure that family courts are under the duty to consider all issues related to violence against women when determining custody and visitation rights and to assess whether such violence would warrant restricting custody and visitation rights.” (pg.108)



· ICD 11- WHO – 2020

Coment by team WHO 3 about the rejection of the proposal of adding the term Parental Alienation on the International Classification of Diseases

Thank you for your proposal. Parental alienation has been removed from the ICD-11 classification as it is a judicial term and issue. Its inclusion for coding purposes in the ICD-11 will not contribute to valid or meaningful health statistics. Team3 WHO 2020-Feb-15 - 14:11 UTC”



· EDVAW – 2019

THE PLATFORM OF UNDERSIGNED UNITED NATIONS AND REGIONAL INDEPENDENT MECHANISMS ON VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN AND WOMEN’S RIGHTS

Intimate partner violence against women is an essential factor in the determination of child custody, say women’s rights experts

“The experts further discouraged the abuse of the “Parental Alienation”4 and of similar concepts and terms invoked to deny child custody to the mother and grant it to a father accused of domestic violence in a manner that totally disregards the possible risks for the child. In this regard, the Committee of Experts of the Follow-up Mechanism to the Belem do Para Convention (MESECVI), in the 2014 Declaration on Violence against Women, Girls and Adolescents and their Sexual and Reproductive Rights, recommends to explicitly prohibit, during the investigations to determine the existence of violence, “evidence based on the discrediting testimony on the basis of alleged

Parental Alienation Syndrome”. The experts also expressed concern for the recent inclusion of “parental alienation” as an index term in the new WHO International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) as a “Caregiver-child relationship problem” that could be misused if applied without taking into consideration above-mentioned international standards that require that incidents of violence against women are taken into account and that the exercise of any visitation or custody rights does not jeopardize the rights and safety of the victim or children. Accusations of parental alienation by abusive fathers against mothers must be considered as a continuation of power and control by state agencies and actors, including those deciding on child custody.” (pg.3)



· OEA - CIDH- CAPÍTULO IV.A

DESARROLLO DE LOS DERECHOS HUMANOS EN LA REGIÓN

Panorama sobre la situación de derechos humanos por país

2019

“La Comisión recibió información sobre los casos de inversión de la custodia de NNA por aplicación de la Ley No. 12.318, Ley de Alienación Parental. Según la información recibida, existiría un patrón en los casos notificados, donde la madre que denuncia casos de violencia, a menudo violencia sexual, tiene la custodia de sus hijos revertidas a favor del presunto agresor125. Esta medida estaría en línea con el ítem V del art. 6° de la ley antes mencionada, que permite al juez revertir la custodia como forma de reparar los actos de alienación parental.

126. Al respecto, en 2018, la Comisión recibió 11 solicitudes de medidas cautelares a favor de las mujeres que perdieron la custodia de sus hijos debido a la aplicación de la ley de alienación parental. En 2019 se recibieron otras 3 solicitudes de MC, lo que corresponde a la mitad de las solicitudes recibidas sobre la protección de los derechos de niños, niñas y adolescentes en Brasil127. (Pg.314)

125 CIDH, Solicitud de audiencia pública en el ámbito del 173° Período de Sesiones sobre la aplicación de la Ley de Alienación.”


· CEDAW - Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women

Concluding observations on the eighth periodic report of New Zealand*

CEDAW/C/NZL/CO/8

20 July 2018

“47 (d) Courts, lawyers for children and social workers are routinely resorting to the Parental Alienation Syndrome theory despite its being refuted internationally;”

“48. (d) Review the reliance on the Parental Alienation theory, with a view to limit its usage in child custody disputes.”



· EUROPEAN ASSOCIATION FOR PSYCHOTHERAPY (EAP)

A Statement from the European Association for Psychotherapy (EAP) on the concepts of ‘Parent Alienation Syndrome’ (PAS) and ‘Parental Alienation’ (PA)

Voted by EAP Board on February 24th, 2018 in Vienna


“The European Association for Psychotherapy (EAP) considers that the terms and concepts of ‘PAS’ and ‘PA’ are unsuitable for use in any psychotherapeutic practice.

The EAP recognizes that there is a high risk and potential of PAS/PA concepts to be used in a manner allowing for violence against children and their mothers to remain undetected, and/or contested, since it ignores essential aspects of child welfare and the gender-based nature of domestic violence.


In cases of allegations of child abuse in a divorce or custody situation, one of the basic assumptions of PAS/PA is that the allegations made by the child or parent are untrue. This concept alone can allow for – and/or – cause further victimization, and a pathologization of children and other victims of domestic violence. In addition, neither PAS nor PA are included in any international classifications of mental disorders (DSM and ICD) and psychotherapists should therefore not use these terms as diagnostic categories.”



· INTER-AMERICAN GUIDELINES ON GENDER EQUALITY FOR THE GOOD OF HUMANITY

2017

From this resistance arises a wide range of false concepts and distortions of reality - such as: the equating of feminism with machismo and the proliferation of the "feminazi" or the idea of feminism as revenge against patriarchy; the denial of the existence of "gender-based" violence and the exponential magnification of the number of false allegations of violence that are presented before different justice institutions (which in reality comprise about 0.01% of the complaints presented) or the so called "Parental Alienation Syndrome" that seeks to impose joint custody in cases of separation and divorce to invalidate the existence of domestic violence and/or avoid the payment of alimony/child support. Pg. 22


· CEDAW - Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women Concluding observations on the seventh periodic report of Costa Rica*

2017

“43. The Committee recommends that the State party:

a) Appropriately address the consideration of the specific needs of women and children in determining child custody in cases involving genderbased violence in the domestic sphere;

(b) Take all measures necessary to discourage the use of “parental alienation syndrome” by experts and by courts in custody cases;”



. MESECVI - Committee of Experts of the Follow-up Mechanism to the Belém do Pará Convention

OEA/Ser.L/II.7.10

MESECVI/CEVI/DEC.4/14

September 19th 2014

“Conducting prompt and exhaustive investigations, bearing in mind the context of coercion as a fundamental element for determining the existence of violence, by using technical evidence and explicitly prohibiting evidence based on the victim’s behaviour to infer consent, such as lack of resistance, sexual history, retraction during the trial; or discrediting testimony on the basis of alleged Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS), such that the results of investigations combat the impunity of offenders;” (pg.13)


· CEDAW/C/ITA/CO/6

Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women

Forty-ninth session

Concluding observations of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women

Republic of Italy

26 July 2011

“50. The Committee noted that Act No. 54/2006 introduced shared (physicals) custody as the preferred default in cases of separation or divorce. However, the Committee is concerned at the lack of studies of the effect of this legal change, especially in light of comparative research that points to negative effects on children (especially small children) of forced shared custody. It is further concerned at reports of suspicion towards claim of child abuse in custody cases, based on the dubious theory of Parental Alienation Syndrome.

51. The Committee calls upon the State party to evaluate the legal change in the area of child custody through scientific studies, in order to assess its longterm effects on women and children, bearing in mind the experience accumulated in other countries on this matter.”


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