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, the mother’s advocate and organizer of the Martin Warning campaign, explained that in many cases the attribution of the crime of “impeding contact” by an ex-partner “succeeds in putting the perpetrator on an equal footing with the woman who exposed him, that the only, what he wants is to protect his son”.
“In the face of complaints of sexual abuse against girls, boys and adolescents, a significant part of the justice system acts in ways that lead to the concealment of this abuse”Monica Macha
When a complaint of abuse is followed by a counter-complaint of restraining order and the judge orders restoration of visitation, some judges tend to base their decision on non-existent Parental Alienation Syndrome (SAP), a construct rejected by the World Health Organization and the American Psychiatric Association’s DSM-V manual.
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 argument of “implanting false memories”“.
“Backlash”, an attack on professionals
Parallel to this, but working in the same direction, occurs the “backlash”, which is an attack by this sector of the judiciary against professionals who certify abuse“, he added.
This happens to professionals in the fields of medicine, psychology or psychiatry who see their registration in jeopardy and are subject to legal proceedings such as search of their offices or your own criminal attributionas they repeatedly denounced.
“In this context, we are saying that 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 a crime, they are ultimately charged and even detained,” said the MP.
“If we succeed in repealing this law, for other cases we will have to think about how to intervene in these situations, but it is not punitive in this way, especially when it is used in this way and ends up being a weapon against the defenders of the mothers”Daniela Dosso
What does the Contact Restriction Act punish?
Sanctioned on 3 November 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 parents who do not live together and on moving the residence of the son or daughter without court permission.
The standard provides a imprisonment from one month to one year for that “parent or third person who hinders or impedes contact of minors with their non-cohabiting parent”, a sanction which is aggravated on the scale of 6 months to 3 years “in the case of a minor under 10 years” or with a disability.
The same penalties will be incurred by “the parent or a third person who, in order to prevent contact between the minor and the non-cohabiting parent, moves the address of the minor 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 is aimed at “criminalizing women”, that it works in tandem with the defunct SAP, that it can be used as an “extension of pre-existing violence” in both the mother and the 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 account presented at the beginning of September was prepared within the framework of Table against sexual abuse of children and adolescents which make up 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 him to come looking, I had to be kicked out of my home,” Dosio 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.
“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”Daniela Dosso
Furthermore, the medical examiner said in his report that he “saw no signs of abuse as the photographs showed the injuries perfectly”, and when new tests were available a month later that revealed these marks, the aggressor was dismissed on the grounds that the boy unable to name him as his victim in the Gesell Chamber interviews.
“Then he accuses me of sexually abusing my son. But with the campaign “Signal for Martin” what we have achieved is to impeach the judge, overturn the impeachment of the accused and reopen the criminal proceedings,” 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 had no contact with her son for two years – or that of sunny girl that he is in the care of his abuser’s mother while his mother is legally prevented from contacting her.
“Some judges are using this law as a tool to leave women as victims and generate a level playing field scenario with two defendants, a father for abuse and a mother for preventing contact. This offers an opportunity to resolve the conflict in a Solomonic way: fire dad because there is no evidence – there is, but they cover it up – and mom, leaving the victim totally unprotected,” added Dosso.
🟥 APDH AND RED VIVA CONDEMN THAT “TODAY, FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 23, 2022, 3 YEARS OF WRONGFUL LEGAL SEPARATION OF A MOTHER FROM HER DAUGHTER BECAUSE SHE WANTED TO PROTECT HER FROM HER ABUSER FATHER AND JUSTICE PUNISHED HER”🟥#JusticiaPorLaNiñaSol
— APDH ▪Permanent Assembly on Human Rights (@APDHArgentina) September 24, 2022
In other cases, “The end result of this sinister recipe is even worse because the abuser is eventually fired, but her possessions are taken away because ‘she’s a toxic mother'”he insisted.
“If we succeed in repealing 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 that punitive, especially when it is used in this way and ends up being a weapon against protective mothers,” Macha concluded.