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Call to withdraw the Bill for mandatory shared custody for ALL children in Greece

Posted by: Διοτίμα
Category: IDEAS-VIEWS-NEWS, Press Releases

To the attention of Mr. Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Prime Minister of Greece

Call to withdraw the Bill for mandatory shared custody for ALL children in Greece

Dear Mr. Mitsotakis,

We, the undersigning Organizations, have been made aware of the alarming content of the Greek Bill entitled “Reforms regarding parent-child relations and other family law issues” that the Greek Minister of Justice set on public consultation and intends to propose for voting to the Greek Parliament.

Its provisions blatantly violate legally binding International instruments regarding human rights of all domestic violence victims (children and mothers mainly) to safety and protection, and specifically:

  • Istanbul Convention, (Law 4531/2018)
  • 2012/29/EU Directive on Victims’ Rights  (Law 4478/2017)
  • UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (Law 2101/1992)

The child is approached from the perspective of a deeply patriarchal society, as a passive recipient of the exercise of parental rights, not as a rights holder; namelythe Bill is indifferent to the child’s:

  • best interest, which is not assessed for each child individually but is exclusively considered to be the presence of two parents in her/his life for ALL children; it imposes “joint and evenly exercised parental custody” as the rule for ALL children with separated parents
  • will and opinion: even though it introduces a plethora of mandatory extrajudicial proceedings (private contracts, mediations) before, during and after court, the child’s opinion is not provisioned to be requested in none, except if the case reaches court.

Domestic violence victims (children and non-abusive parent, mostly mothers) are exposed by the Bill to a greater danger than they were already in:

  • the rule of “joint and evenly exercised parental custody” obliges the child to be in physical contact with the parent s/he doesn’t reside with, “for at least 1/3 of the total communication time, unless this parent requests shorter time”; child’s refusal is considered parental alienation by the other parent, punishable by removal of custody
  • for implementing the aforementioned rule, parents are mandated to multiple direct contacts and conciliations while, for modifying it, multiple mediations (before, during and after court) recommended or mandated, in which sessions of simultaneous presence of the two parties is the only option; there is no exception for domestic violence victims-perpetrators
  • the parental rights of the parent-perpetrator and his/her contact with the child can be restricted or ceased only after being convicted by the court of first instance for crimes of domestic violence or crimes against sexual freedom or crimes of financial exploitation of sexual life; in Greek courts’ reality, this means that ALL perpetrators are granted unhindered access to their victims for more than 2-5 years.

Knowing that in Greece:

  • the majority of abused women who have children with their abusers, don’t resort to penal courts for the domestic violence they are suffering; instead, they try to escape from the abusive home via civil court’s decisions, in order to obtain restriction/protection orders against the perpetrator and to regulate the situation for children’s custody and contact with the other parent, child support etc.
  • mediation is mandatory for all cases concerning parental custody and contact with children in order for the case to reach the civil court (Law 4640/2019, art. 6) and penal mediation is strongly recommended for misdemeanors of domestic violence (Law 3500/2006)
  • there is no discrete Child Protection System, no process for mandatory reporting of child abuse/neglect and no process for supervised parental contact
  • the protection provided to domestic violence victims is inadequate, because most of the related provisions of the Istanbul Convention (art. 51-53) and of the 2012/29/EU Directive (Art 19, 20 & 22-24) are still inactive: inexistent risk assessment and management, emergency barring orders cannot be enforced, while breaches of restraining/protection orders are neither monitored or punished

we express our great concern that such a Law will further weaken the inadequate protection that is currently provided to domestic violence victims (mothers and children) because it will expose them at greater risk than they are already in and will extremely impede their access to Justice (Civil and Penal) in order to ask protection.

The violations of human rights and of legally binding, International and European, instruments DO NOT disappear by the simple addition, in Article 1, of the phrase “its provisions are interpreted and applied in accordance with the legally binding for the country international conventions, in particular the Istanbul Convention, and can not be considered as justifying the non-compliance with the obligations arising from them”.

We trust that you share our great concern for all children and women that will be affected in case this Bill becomes a Greek Law and that you, like us, will prioritize the safety and wellbeing of all children and mothers who suffer domestic violence.

WE CALL you to withdraw this Bill and compel the Minister of Justice to initiate an open and substantive consultation with ALL competent agencies, including NGOs and Women Organizations.

Most respectfully,

Name of organization Country
1. A.L.E.G. Romania
2. AC Vive Zene Bosnia and Herzegovina
3. Alliance of Women in Slovakia Slovensko
4. Asociación AMIGA por los derechos humanos de las mujeres SPAIN
5. Asociatia Casa Ioana Romania
6. Aspacia Foundation Spain
7. Associació Helia Spain
8. Associatio for Nonviolent Communication Slovenija
9. ASSOCIATION DES FEMMES DE L’EUROPE MERIDIONALE (AFEM) Europe OING dotée de statut participatif auprès du Conseil de l’Europe
10. Association française des femmes diplômées des universités France
11. Associazione Toponomastica femminile Italia
12. BOUNDS (UMAR) Portugal
13. Ca la dona Spain
15. Community Safety and Mediation Center Romania
16. Conexus Association Spain
17. Counselling Line for Men and Boys Albania
18. Counselling Line for Women and Girls (National Helpline 116117) Albania
19. Creación Positiva Spain
20. Cultural-Humanitarian Fund “Sukhumi” Georgia
21. Dissens – Institute for Education and Research e.V. Germany
22. Dziewuchy Berlin Germany
23. ECICW – European Centre of the International Council of Women Europe
24. Encore féministes ! France
25. European Alternatives France
26. European Anti-Violence Network Greece
27. European Network of Women – Greece Greece
28. Feminist Collectivity Theodora Greece
29. Fundació Aroa (Aroa Foundation) Spain
30. Garance ASBL Belgium
32. Gender Studies Research Group – University of Balearic Islands Spain
33. ICBT – Institute of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Albania
34. IN BONA FIDE Croatia
35. International Council of Polish Women Poland
36. Maghweb Italy
37. Marche mondiale des femmes /Suisse Suisse
38. Mediterranean Institute of Gender Studies Cyprus
39. Munincipality of Agios Dimitrios – Attica Greece
40. Necuvinte Association Romania
41. Network Forum Malta MALTA
42. Observatori d’Igualtat de Tracte i Oportunitats Spain
43. Partito della Rifondazione Comunista Italia
44. positive change service United Kingdom
45. Public Union “Clean World” AID to Women Azerbaijan
46. Public Union “Clean World” AID to Women Azerbaijan
47. Respect United Kingdom
48. Romanian Women’s Lobby Romania
49. Romski centar za žene i decu Serbia
50. Scottish Rural Action Scotland
51. Sisters Uncut Manchester United Kingdom
52. Sitges Voluntaris Socials Spain
53. Social Intervention for West Athens _Citizens’ Initiative Greece
54. StoP – Stadtteile ohne Partnergewalt e.V./Prof. Dr. Sabine Stövesand Germany
55. The Drive Partnership UK
56. The European Network of work with perpetrators WWP EN Germany
57. The Healing Tree community for Mental Health (Koin.S.Ep/Social Enterprise) Greece
58. The House of Women for Empowerement & Emancipation (Το Σπίτι των Γυναικών, για την Ενδυνάμωση & τη Χειραφέτηση) Greece
59. “TOMOV” Women’s rights association Greece
60. Toutes Aux Frontières /groupe suisse Suisse
61. UMAR – União de Mulheres Alternativa e Resposta (Women’s Association) Portugal
62. Una Casa per l’Uomo Italia
63. Union of Women Associations of Heraklion Prefect – Σύνδεσμος Μελών Γυναικείων Σωματείων Ηρακλείου & Νομού Ηρακλείου Greece
64. Unizon Sweden
65. WAVE Network Europe
66. Women Center “Light Steps” Albania
67. Women’s Law Center Republic of Moldova
68. Women’s Aid Federation of England United Kingdom
69. Women’s Law Center Republic of Moldova
70. Women’s Support and Information Centre NPO Estonia
71. Xarxa Europea d Dones Periodistes Spain
73. Zéromacho – des hommes contre la prostitution et pour l’égalité France
74. Zukunftskonvent Germany Germany
75. Γραμματεία Ισότητας ΟΤΟΕ Greece
79. Κέντρο Διοτίμα Greece