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Foyle Women's aid issue urgent appeal

category derry | rights, freedoms and repression | news report author Thursday August 28, 2003 00:17author by Davina James-Hanman - Foyle Women’s Aidauthor email admin at foylewomensaid dot orgauthor address Pathways, 24, Pump Street, L’Derry BT48 6JGauthor phone 028 71280060 Report this post to the editors

Derry mother forced to return to US under duress from abusive partner

Foyle Women’s Aid today have issued an urgent appeal for support and help for a young Derry mother who is to be returned to the US against her will with her two children under duress from her abusive ex partner within the next few days. This young woman Cara Gunn fled the US last year after suffering years of abuse from her husband. However as soon as Cara left the US for Northern Ireland, her ex husband then enacted the Hague Convention against her saying that she had abducted his child, the younger of her two children.

Cara has been in Northern Ireland for a full year since returning last August and has tried to challenge The Hague Convention at the highest level possible by putting her case to the High Court in Belfast. Unfortunately as in other cases in Northern Ireland with women who have lived abroad, the High Court does not address the issue of the abuse that Cara or other women have experienced and which made them flee from life threatening situations.

Marie Brown, Area Management Co-ordinator of Foyle Women’s Aid today issued an appeal, “This young woman is being returned to the US to a state where nobody cares about the abuse that has happened to her and the significant harm that has been recorded by a number of agencies here to her children perpetrated by this man. She and her older child have no rights to residency in the US and can only remain in the US for 90 days before being returned to Ireland. Her husband wants her to leave her 5 year old boy and split him from his mother and sister, he has been given full custody of this child by the Florida courts in her absence. Cara has discovered since returning to Northern Ireland that this man has a string of convictions in the US that were unknown to her from assault and battery, to eluding police, and he holds at least six firearms, this has made the prospect of returning even more terrifying. Despite this he was given full support from the American Embassy in Belfast and also legal aid was afforded to him in this country. Cara has no-one or nothing and will not be afforded the same privilege in the US when she returns. She has to fight to get this case into court in the US on her return all on her own, she has no money and no legal representation in the US as she does not hold residency there and has no home there.

This is a disgraceful situation and whilst you would not believe that such a thing is possible in the 21st Century - unfortunately as has been proven around the world, the human rights of abused women and their children are of little or no consequence to courts or to governments. Whilst the Hague Convention was designed to protect children from abduction by one parent to a foreign country, there was no consideration that it would prove an effective tool for abusive males to keep women and children within their grasp away from their families. As all to often happens in domestic violence and abuse if you want to know about rights then talk to perpetrators of abuse.”

Cara after today’s judgement in the High Court has said: ”On the day I left the US I did not make a decision not to return, all I knew was that I needed to get home to my family and friends, I have suffered 5 years of abuse at the hands of this man, he had moved to a new partner and threatened to take my son away from me and have me deported, which was possible as I did not have full residency in the US. He stopped giving me any financial support and even though I worked two jobs I could not make ends meet. He abused my children in the most cruel way. My instincts as a mother was to try get to my own family and gather some strength to survive this, I had no idea of this Hague Convention and how restrictive it is, I thought the courts would hear my story and understand”.

Marie Brown of Foyle Women’s Aid issued an appeal for support:

“Today we are calling on all the community to give their support to challenging the Hague Convention and the lack of insight and knowledge of domestic violence that lets this Convention return women and children to abusive ex partners.

What we know from working and supporting these women is that when they are fleeing this violence the last thing on their mind is this convention or any law, they are fleeing to save their lives and the lives of their children, if not from murder, from the abuse these families have suffered. This young woman does not even have the right to remain in the US as she has been issued with a 10 year ban from returning to the US.

This family is going to be split apart, with her youngest child of 5 being left in the US without his mother and his sister. I would ask any of you reading this today to think, what if this was your child, your daughter and son, your granddaughter? Could you leave a 5 year old child behind and travel thousands of miles home without him or her?, would you trust that this man who abused you and your children would maintain
contact and bring this child to Ireland regularly to see you? This is further abuse again of this young woman and her children, but this time
by the courts and the narrow legal framework that has to be changed to take account of domestic violence and the abuse of children”.

Foyle Women’s Aid are asking for the following support:

1. For financial support for this young woman and her children to stay in a safe place in Florida when she is made to return for the 90
days and also for legal help as Cara does not qualify for legal aid in the US

2. Contact your local politician or MLA and ask that they investigate this issue and take positive action to support this woman and her

3. If you have any form of support that may be available to her and her family in the Gainsville/Ocala area of Florida, please let us
know, or family or friends to provide support on a day to day basis when Cara and her family return to Florida in any way

4. Contact any US based support groups and ask them to lobby and campaign on this issue particularly in the Florida state

5. Email any website or group you may know of to inform them of this issue and who may be able to spread information of Cara’s situation

6. Join our protest outside the High Court in Belfast on the day of her return to the US, details to be issued later in the press

For more info:

Contact: Marie Brown, Foyle Women’s Aid, Pathways, 24, Pump Street,
L’Derry BT48 6JG. Tel: 028 71280060 Fax: 028 71 280061

* Cara is available for interview via Foyle Women’s Aid
* - Hague Conference on Private International Law
* - International Parental Child Abduction
* - International Child Abduction

author by Seáinínpublication date Thu Aug 28, 2003 03:18author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Wasn't she a foolish little ninny that didn't get to know this character a little better before she threw her lot in with him.

Silly little hoyden.

author by Precision Manpublication date Thu Aug 28, 2003 10:04author address author phone Report this post to the editors

As regards seainin's attention-seeking comments, I have decided as from now, that I will stop giving him the verbal spankings he seems to crave.
Lets just "send him to Coventry"
Go to your room, seainin.

author by Tiocfaidh Armani - Na Fianna Eireannpublication date Thu Aug 28, 2003 16:21author email info at fiannaeireann dot comauthor address Dublinauthor phone Report this post to the editors

...of a troll, well hes the king of them and king-size muppet, all rounded into one!

Related Link:
author by ???publication date Thu Aug 28, 2003 23:02author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Trolls are sad, pathetic creatures, and the one you are referring to is one of the more dim-witted ones.

Sad, really.

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