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