By Alicia Alvado
Lawmakers, mother advocates and organizations fighting sexual violence against girls and boys have introduced a bill to repeal the Prevention of Contact Act, which has been in place since 1993, saying it is being used to criminalize to those who accompany victims in their complaints of domestic violence and forced reunification with the aggressors.
“This law is used to punish protective mothers who file sexual abuse complaints in defense of their children, resulting in them being deprived of their liberty and the child being forcibly reunited with the adult who abused them “, he said Télam deputy Mónica Macha, who presented the project.
Daniela Dosso, an advocate for the mother and organizer of the Signal for Martin campaign, explained that in many cases a criminal charge of “impeding contact” by an ex-partner “succeeds in putting the perpetrator on an equal footing with the woman who denounced him, that everything , what he wants is to protect his son.”
When an abuse complaint is followed by a no-contact counter-complaint and a court orders reinstatement of visitation, some judges typically base their decision on the defunct Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS), a construct rejected by the World Health Organization and the DSM-V manual of American Psychiatric Association.
In addition, the National Secretariat for Children, Adolescents and the Family (Senaf) and 85 referents of childhood issues spoke strongly against the SAP.
“In the face of allegations of child and adolescent sexual abuse, an important part of the justice system acts in ways that lead to the concealment of this abuse,” said Macha, who stressed that “the non-existent SAP is being applied – which has no scientific or psychiatric basis – and resorts to the “implantation of false memories” argument.
“In parallel, but working in the same direction, there is a ‘backlash’ which is an attack by this sector of the justice system against professionals who certify abuses,” he added.
This happens to professionals in the field of medicine, psychology or psychiatry who see their registration in jeopardy and are subjected to legal procedures such as searches of their offices or criminal charges, as they have repeatedly denounced.
“In this context, we say it is necessary to repeal the Prevention of Contact Act because it states that a mother or father who cuts off contact (because a daughter or son has disclosed abuse) is committing an offense which ultimately account has been charged and even detained,” said the MP.
Sanctioned on November 3, 1993 at the request of the Association of Parents Away from Their Children (Apadeshi), Law 24 270 included two new offenses in the Penal Code: preventing the contact of minors with their non-cohabiting parents and the relocation of the son or the daughter without judicial permission.
The rule provides for a prison sentence of one month to one year for that “parent or third person who hinders or hinders the contact of minors with their non-cohabiting parent”, a sanction that is aggravated on a scale of 6 months to three years. “for a child under 10” or with a disability.
The same sanctions will be applied to “the parent or a third person who, in order to prevent the contact of the minor with the parent who does not live together, moves the minor’s address without court permission.”
Criticisms, which had already been raised in the parliamentary debate of this law, intensified during these 30 years of operation, and the office of the Chief Ombudsman itself spoke out for its repeal.
These questions state that it “exacerbates conflicts,” that it aims to “criminalize women,” that it works in tandem with the defunct SAP, that it can be used as an “extension of pre-existing violence” in both mother and child.son or daughter, and that it is discriminatory because it does not provide that the non-cohabiting parent can commit the same crime.
The new bill, presented at the beginning of September, was drawn up within the framework of the Table Against Sexual Abuse of Children and Adolescents, which is made up of more than fifty organizations, such as the Association of Argentine Women Judges (AMJA), Argentine Actresses, APDH, Casa Fusa, FEIM, Shalom Bait and Childhoods Free of Violence.
“My son Martin told me about the abuse in February 2021 when he was seven years old. As soon as I file the complaint, the same thing happens to me as to everyone else – the judge does not order a measure of protection for my son, and because the father wanted to come and get him, I had to be evicted from my home,” Dosyo said.
The perimeter came up more than two weeks later when she got the Court’s Domestic Violence Service to intervene, but by then her ex-partner had already counter-applied for a no-contact and ideological lie.
Furthermore, the medical examiner said in his report that he “saw no signs of violence as the injuries were picture perfect”, and when new skills were available a month later that accounted for these marks, the aggressor was dismissed with the argument, that the boy could not name him as his victim in the Gesell Chamber interviews.
“He then accused me of sexually abusing my son. But with the Martin Warning campaign, what we achieved was to recuse the judge, overturn the dismissal of the accused and reopen the criminal investigation,” he said.
Meanwhile, the child is still with Daniela and “a protective measure is in place against the aggressor pending the investigation,” which the woman says is already accumulating evidence “to summon him for investigation, to prosecute him and to put him on probation.”
Other paradigmatic cases are that of Gilda Morales – who spent two months in prison and has not had contact with her son for two years – or that of the girl Sol, who is in the care of her abuser’s mother, while her mother has a legal impediment to has contact with her.
“Some judges are using this law as a tool to leave women as victims and create a level playing field scenario with two defendants, a father for abuse and a mother for preventing contact. This makes it possible to resolve the conflict in a Solomonic way: exonerate the father because there is no evidence – such as there is, but they cover it up – and also the mother, leaving the victim totally unprotected”, added Dosso.
In other cases, “the end result of this sinister recipe is even worse because the abuser ends up being fired, but her custody is taken away because ‘she’s a toxic mother,'” she insisted.
“If we succeed in overturning this law, for other cases we will have to think about how to intervene in these situations (of a visitation conflict), but it is not as punitive, especially when it is used in this way and ends up being weapons against protective mothers,” Macha concluded.