Protecting your children

Would you risk jail to see your children happy?

There has been a media frenzy surrounding four girls who, in 2010, were brought to Australia on a holiday by their Australian-born mother. Their Italian father remained in Italy, as the couple are separated, and two years later the girls and their mother are still in here. After being court-ordered to return home the girls went into hiding, only to be found on Monday this week. Their Australian grandmother, great-grandmother and great-aunt are all suspected of helping to hide the children, and could face charges, fines, or even jail sentences.

What irks me about this case is that every major newspaper in Australia has run multiple articles on it as new information has come out about the girls and their whereabouts. Many of the articles are well-researched, and a number included information about the Italian family back home and about the girls’ father.

And not one of them has been able to explain why this mother has dragged her children to the other side of the world, or why they felt they had to go into hiding. The girls’ parents were separated, but they had joint custody for three years before this extended holiday. Nobody has reported that they were unhappy in Italy, nobody has suggested that the father was cruel or abusive, or even that he was anything but a regular dad.

And yet running away and staying in a country illegally is a pretty extreme way to deal with a situation. The girls’ great-grandmother even suggested that she would rather die than allow them to return. So why isn’t this family coming forward and explaining the situation? They have spent a lot of time and energy raising public sympathy and awareness for their cause, using Facebook and television appearances to make their story public. Would we feel any differently about this case if a father had run away with is four daughters? Is that fair?

More information
You can find the details of the case in the article International custody battle.

Would you feel any differently about this case if a father had run away with his four daughters?
Yes
No
 



Have your say
Would you go to the lengths these women are? What would you do to protect your children, or grandchildren, or great-grandchildren? Would you risk jail to see them happy? Or has this all been blown out of proportion?



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    COMMENTS

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    pate
    23rd May 2012
    2:50pm
    I would probably feel just as much as this mother does but you must consider all details here. We do not know what the man has been through either and until I heard both sides of the story I cannot say. It is very easy to get carried away with these stories like everything we only hear part of the facts.
    Nan Norma
    23rd May 2012
    3:11pm
    Unless it is proved the mother was not caring for the girls then they should be with their mother. I do understand the law but the law doesn't always get it right. Commonsense must overrule sometimes. Girls need their mothers. I wish I knew something more about the father. My father loved me and my sister enough to sign papers to permit us come to Australia with my mother. Does he love them or is this father just using the law to get back at the mother? The girls want to be with their mother. To wrench them away would be very cruel. They will only hate their father .
    Reppie
    23rd May 2012
    5:02pm
    Am I the only one to get the idea that the girls Mother is Australian? With all the relatives who helped her here along the way, then that surely makes the girls half Australian doesn't it? If this is the case, knowing how girls do need their mothers, if there is even an ounce of truth in what the girls are saying about their Dad, then the authorities must listen to these girls. In our courts, as I believe, after age 8-10 the children are allowed to choose who they live with, or at least have their say, and be heard.
    Nan Norma
    23rd May 2012
    5:16pm
    No you are not alone. The mother couldn't live in Australia if she wasn't Australian. The girls must have had passports to get here but it doesn't actually make them half Australian. The older girls are old enough to know where they want to live. I wish I knew the father's motive for demanding they go back to Italy. Will they be then left for someone else to care for them instead of their mother.
    Dand
    23rd May 2012
    5:20pm
    The older ones should be asked what they want to do. The younger ones are probably better off with their mother. Father should have access.
    Just my thoughts.
    Cheers
    KeyC
    23rd May 2012
    6:10pm
    Indeed very sad and traumatic when this occurs. Surely no winners really.
    Correct; scant information on background to all of this. However, on the subject of the father whether he would have received same resonse to this plight? Sadly, no;as it is always the male parent who seemingly is adjudged as the villain. I also disagree that a male parent could not meet the needs of girls in rearing them. One could argue boys need their fathers too. Of course, it may show that I am mother of all-boy family and it saddens me to always find that the men are treated differently.
    Just quickly; I have a niece who sought the former partner's consent to settle in Ireland with their only daughter then aged 3. The agreement was that my niece facilitate annual visits.Well, there has yet got to be a visit and every obstacle has been placed in the father's way to prevent him from seeing his daughter! It is now 5 years and he is still fighting to have those visits. He is a clean-living, kind and gentle and too polite for his own good!
    Nan Norma
    23rd May 2012
    7:17pm
    KeyC. I am aware this happens and it truly is awful. But each case must be treated on its own merits. I would whole heartedly agree the father in this case should be able to visit his daughters. But why is this father so intent on taking his daughters away from their mother when they clearly want to be with their mother.
    KeyC
    24th May 2012
    6:13am
    Hi Nan Norma. The question why the father is so intent "on taking his daughters away from their mother when they clearly want to be with their mother" ? Again I remind myself WE DO NOT KNOW THE FULL STORY. However, lets reverse it: why is the mother so intent........ Also can we wholeheartedly say that the children want to be with the mother. Children are caught up in their parents' failed relationships and inability to resolve without further hurt. Any child would not want their parents to be taken from them UNLESS there is a real threat to safety to the child at the hands of the parent(s) and then one would expect the courts to rule on this. While the children are in Australia of course they want mother; but does it mean they don't want father? Their loyalty to either parent will be askewed with the influence grandmas, aunties, uncles - all maternal family - have on them. How could a child possibly 'decide' - they can not under these circumstances. Father would feel equally threatened that he may never see his children again. You see these are the children who will grow up and wait till they can go in search of a parent from whom they have been separated in childhood, become reunited; sometimes far too late to have a semblance of a relationship with the 'lost' parent. And sometimes for the rest of their lives have to recover from a screwed up life at the hands of warring parents (and in-laws in this case).
    But it seems somewhere in this case the amicable separation has turned sour? And for the maternal family to become involved makes one wonder what chance the father has? In-laws of course play a role but how far have they gone here?
    As long as this 'conflict' continues the more damage is caused to the still developing children who have to make sense of a situation.
    Remember we dont know the full story.....
    Nan Norma
    24th May 2012
    8:16am
    KayC I have said I wish I knew more about the father. But we can only go by what we have read. My parent seperated I was asked by the court where I wanted to live. My father was not abusive in anyway but there was no way I would have wanted to live with him.
    pate
    24th May 2012
    8:42am
    You have not seen the Father any more than the rest of us so why make judgements about him? If i=I were the judge sitting on such a case I would certainly want to meet him & judge for myself.
    Nan Norma
    24th May 2012
    9:05am
    Pate, We have been asked for an opinion and that's what we're doing. We are also asking the same questions you are. Even my husband said he thought the girls needed to be with their mother, and we have a daughter.
    JJ
    24th May 2012
    9:52am
    Yes, certainly the girls need their mother. There is no doubt about that. The sticking point is - why did she decide to bring them back to Australia on a permanent basis? She was obviously living in Italy, and sharing parenting with the father. This trip to Australia was supposedly a four-week holiday. It seems that she has "pulled a swift y" and wants to keep them here now, whether that was a planned ruse or a spur-of-the-moment decision makes no difference. There is a legal obligation here, and she has broken the law. She must take them back to Italy and face the music, hoping not to be penalized by having her own parenting rights reduced. I'm sorry, and don't think I am unsympathetic, but she is in the wrong!

    If there are circumstances which make a return to Italy potentially harmful to the girls, then this must be taken before the courts for a legal decision to be worked out. Thus far, we as spectators have been apprised of no reasons for their safety to be at risk by being returned to the custody sharing arrangement which existed before this all happened.
    Reppie
    24th May 2012
    10:20am
    Both my daughters live on the other side of Australia. Recently my younger daughter visited "home"over here. 3 weeks later she is still missing her long time friends, and her family over here. Why would an Aussie living in Italy not want to bring her girls here for a holiday, and surely she would miss the support of her family and friends over here. Why assume this was premeditated. I can understand how difficult it can be away from my girls even they are very much grown women, and I can't wait to see them whenever we get the opportunity to visit each other.
    toot2000
    24th May 2012
    11:52am
    I hope they get to stay in Australia and wonder why people choose not to believe the mother and the girls when they say he is abusive. They want evidence but how do you prove it, the bruises have faded and the wounds healed long ago, I hate it when women are not believed and the worst critics seem to be other women.
    JJ
    24th May 2012
    12:21pm
    I may have missed something, but I haven't seen any claims of abuse from anyone, and the original blog also states that no such claims have been made.. As I stated in my note above, my remarks are based on what I have read. If abuse is involved, then of course it changes the situation completely.
    Nan Norma
    24th May 2012
    3:24pm
    JJ I have read the girls claimed their father was abusive. To those who speak about laws, there are countries where the fathers have all legal rights. Ff they are divorced they can, and do, take their children off their mothers when they are still quite young. It is the law, but does it make it right. Women there will stay in abusive marriages to keep their children. I know this is getting a little off the subject of these girls but I'm trying t show that law are not always based on commonsence. Right now it should be what is best for the children, not their father or their mother. And not what the laws say.
    toot2000
    24th May 2012
    3:29pm
    And the girls are old enough to decide where they want to be.
    Nan Norma
    24th May 2012
    3:33pm
    Exactly toot2000. And girls need their mum. Its a female thing.
    pate
    25th May 2012
    1:12pm
    all you women can see is the girls need their mum doesn't matter if she is stupid or a drug addict or anything Just a broken record from the stupid ones!!!
    Nan Norma
    25th May 2012
    1:50pm
    pate You are wrong. if you read what has been said before you will see that: unless the mother has not been caring for the girls. as far as we know, she has. Also I said that it was what was best for the children, not their father, or their mother or even the law, but what is best for the girls. if the mother was into drugs then she won't be keeping the girls , but I don't think that is the case at all, going by what I've read. And Girls do need their mothers. Women understand why.
    toot2000
    25th May 2012
    1:31pm
    This mother isn't a drug addict or stupid, she escaped from her abusing husband 2 years ago with the help of the Dept of Foreign Affairs and the Australian Embassy. She went to the Italian police 4 times to report abuse but on each occasion they told her not to press charges, so it was useless even bothering. He broke the eldest girl's finger during one beating, such a nice man to send the kids back to eh?
    Nan Norma
    25th May 2012
    2:09pm
    toot2000 Thanks. Hope that satisfies pate.


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