• 29Aug

    Too many women, too many children – killed by husbands and fathers.

    red rose

    From the Domestic Violence Death Review Action Group


    And it is done in the context of domestic violence.


    These murders are about power and control, a sense of male entitlement and for revenge.


    And yet we continue to hear about the suffering of these fathers and husbands – their grief over separation from their wives and children.


    Helen Garner has just written a book “This House of Grief” which explores the deaths of Jai, Tyler and Bailey Farquharson who were driven into a dam and left to drown by their father, Rob Farquharson.

    The very title of this book raises concerns. She was interviewed on Life Matters, Radio National.

    Her account of the event and the court case was definitely harrowing.

    But it was her assessment of preventing such murders can only be described as misinformed. Her answer to this serious problem is to provide support in helping men deal with grief.


    So often when these events occur we see headlines in the media such as

    “He was a good man”. “He loved his children.”


    Debbie Kirkwood in  ‘Just Say Goodbye’ Parents who kill their children in the context of separation’, explains how the media contributes to society’s views of men who kill their partners and their children – a view that makes excuses for such behaviour.


    “The way these cases are reported shapes public discourse on the subject and the way people understand the events.” 

    We also hear so many court cases in which women are blamed in some way for the behaviours of their partners –

    “She provoked me”; “She was taking my children away from me”.

    And of course we have Men’s Rights Activists blaming women and the family law system for tipping men over the edge!


    Destroy the Joint are currently raising awareness about the killing of women.

    This year, they have recorded 50 women that have already been killed.

    counting dead women

    Every year 75 Australian women are killed by their partners or ex-partners, according to national homicide data.

    Every year violence against women is the single largest contributor to the public health burden of illness, injury and premature death for women aged 15-45.


    And yet we still hear the excuses – about grief, about loss!


    “Separation filicides by fathers are more likely to involve one or more of the following contributing elements:

    • Violence and controlling behaviour towards their partner before, and after, separation

    • Anger towards their ex-partner and desire for revenge in relation to the separation

    • An intention to harm the ex-partner by killing the children.” (Just say Goodbye)


    Fiona Mc Cormack writes that “Rhetoric isn’t enough to stop domestic violence. Here are five real solutions”

    One of her solutions is to hold violent perpetrators to account.

    Helen Garner’s summation of addressing this problem does not hold perpetrators to account.

    It gives them excuses.

    She fails to address the issue of male entitlement and privilege and male power and control.


    “Preventing violence means tackling the underlying causes – misogyny, the objectification of women, gender inequality, and male entitlement and privilege – that all contribute to men who choose to use violence believing they have a right to behave this way. These causes are embedded at all levels of our society, including among our politicians.” Fiona McCormack


    Amanda Marcotte reports on a successful programme in Massachusetts where a high risk assessment team target the men most likely to kill.

    Men who kill their wives or girlfriends (85 percent of victims are female) generally give us lots of warning by beating, stalking, and even raping their victims, usually for years before they finally kill.

    The high-risk teams shift the burden of being surveilled from the victim to the abuser. Now, if he makes a threat, Massachusetts has the power to escalate. If he uses visitation time to attack her or her children, Massachusetts restricts visitation. Now he’s the one who has to make his decisions with the understanding that someone with power can further restrict his movements and his ability to live freely


    WEAVE has been lobbying with other activists for the establishment of Domestic Violence Death Reviews in every state.-

    national quilt


    Domestic violence fatality review is a “deliberative process” to prevent further domestic violence and homicide; to provide strategies to ensure safety and hold perpetrators and systems accountable.

    We need to stop giving men excuses.

    We must oppose men’s power and privilege over women and children.

    And we must acknowledge that this power, this privilege, this sense of entitlement permeates our society and leads to many abuses and far too many deaths.

    “We also need to challenge the sense of entitlement that some men continue to have in relation to their families, an entitlement that leads them to believe their partner has no right to leave them and no right to form a new relationship, and that punishing her is justified because of the suffering they experience.” Debbie Kirkwood



  • 11Jul


    Child sex abuse within families rampant

    Victoria Police wants to open a new front in the fight against family violence as frightening new data reveals a 43 per cent jump in child sex abuse cases in the past five years.

    Detective Superintendent Rod Jouning, head of the Victoria Police sexual and family violence division, said the true rate of child sex abuse by family members and others known to the victim was horrifying. He said Victoria Police’s campaign to tackle family violence had encouraged unprecedented reporting of partner on partner violence, but too many child sex abuse victims were still not coming forward.

    child sexual abuse vic


    The Latest News from the Royal Commission

    Cardinal George Pell disputes evidence of his closest advisers at the inquiry at the royal commission into child sex abuse.

    George Pell’s truck driver analogy veers into hostile territory by Tammy Mills of The Age

    And again from the Age: Vatican refuses to hand over files on accused pedophile priests

    cuts to royal commission


    The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse is probably one of the most noteworthy legacies of the Gillard Labor Government.



    It was established to be serious and important – the way it was set up, its structure and its operation – it was no empty gesture to the concerns being expressed by the community in response to child sexual abuse allegations which occurred and are occurring within our large church and government organizations.
    During this we have some high profile child sexual abuse allegations against men such as Jimmy Savile and Rolf Harris.
    In January of this year a new research study was released (Profiling parental child sex abuse by Jane Goodman-Delahunty)
    Just a quick glance of some of the research findings:
    • High prevalence rates of childhood sexual abuse in Australia—38 percent for women and 13 percent for men.

    • Only 10 percent of child sexual abuse cases are perpetrated by strangers.

    Most parental child sex offenders were men in a father–child relationship with their victim.

    More than three-fifths of the victims were under the age of 10 years at the time of disclosure of the abuse, and overwhelming were exclusively female (91%).

    • Parental sex offenders are among the successful and productive sex offenders who tend to be classified as low risk and to receive shorter sentences.

    •  One in every four victims experiencing sexual abuse it was accompanied by threats of extortion, or violence.


    This research clearly shows us that the incidents of child sexual abuse that are currently hitting our headlines are not the majority – that the majority are occurring in our homes.
    However, what the headlines are capturing is that this is about power and control.

    The power and control offenders have over children – in homes, in churches and in institutions.

    The power to do harm.
    And this power and control is enacted with impunity – because they are protected by powerful institutions – whether it is church organizations or those protecting the sanctity of the family.
    Be very clear that the sanctity of the family is at the heart of this impunity.

    Our family law system fails to acknowledge or hear victims, and punishes mothers for raising their concerns about the safety of their children.

    Our child protection system is more likely to punish mothers for failing to protect their children, than take action against offending fathers.

    Our media portrays these men as “pathological or aberrant”, placing them as out of the norm.

    But how abnormal can it be when over a third of women are victims of child sexual abuse?
    Suzanne Power has written an excellent article about this in which she talks about the absence of the discussion about gender, patriarchy and male power.

    “Many would prefer to take refuge in the idea of the paedophile as pathological and aberrant. Those who work with victims of abuse will tell you that as with rape, most abusers are known to the victim. Home is where the hatred is and that is why abuse rips apart the boundaries between love and trust and intimacy in families and is so devastating.”

    She talks about sexual politics, men in positions of power, cover ups and a culture of culpability. And the refusal to examine this in terms of patriarchy and how male power works. As she says:

    “We are called feminists. Child abuse isn’t a new story for us.”

    The questions that Suzanne Power asks go to the very reason why child sexual abuse is such a major problem and why there is so much silence surrounding it.
    And the answers are that it is about patriarchy and male power and our “collective refusal to contemplate how patriarchy works.”


    I will leave it to Suzanne to conclude:

    “But it is absolutely negligent to talk about power and abuse without any context, in some gender-free vacuum. If we cannot talk about historical abuse and how male privilege operated to make it so risk-free, then it won’t go away. Abuse is always an expression of power. Not acknowledging that power is another way of silencing its victims.”


    Another useful reference is Rocking the Cradle of Sexual Politics: What Happened When Women Said Incest by Louise Armstrong. A very good article she wrote in 1994, ‘Who Stole Incest?‘ is still very relevant 10 years later.

  • 19Jun


    Equality before the Law – you think?!
    When the Family Law Act came into being in 1975 it was hailed as one of the most progressive pieces of family legislation in the Western world. Australia was one of the first western nations to bring about ‘no-fault’ divorce. And it was a momentous moment for women. At last they could leave unhappy and abusive husbands without the trauma of proving fault.
    However, there remains one significant fault with the concept of equality within the family law arena – the fact that men and women, mothers and fathers are not equal.
    Just look at the recent figures that came out from the Hilda survey  in the last couple of weeks.
    Male breadwinners continue to dominate within heterosexual couples with 75% of men continuing to earn more than their female partners. Women were less likely to earn more money than their partner if the couple had dependent children.

    hilda report breadwinners
    And women continue to do the bulk of unpaid work.
    Women are considerably more likely to be unpaid carers than men, with 9.1% of females aged 15 and over providing unpaid care on an ongoing basis in 2011, compared with 5.8% of males aged 15 and over.
    The survey also found that gender roles in households are persisting, with women doing 15 hours more housework each week than men, and 12 hours more child rearing.
    Check out the article in the Guardian

    guardian re hilda

    Women constitute 69.9% of all part time employees, according to the Australian government’s Workplace Gender Equality Agency.
    Once separated many women as single parents are left in poverty. The cuts to single-parent payments over the past decade have coincided with a rise in child poverty.
    So when a couple separate women are at a disadvantage economically and often socially and physically. They take on the responsibility of parenting both emotionally and physically at a greater rate than men. This often involves sacrificing their own careers and future financial stability. They make an emotional commitment to parenting that men are not obliged to make. Men have the option of opting in or out of parenting, which women do not.
    We hold women responsible not only for ensuring the care of children, but also of maintaining the family. We herald women as mothers as the core of the family unit – “Good on you Mum”. But when things go wrong we blame women – for not holding a family together, for not being available to their children, for aiming for more than motherhood.
    And yet even when families separate women are held responsible for ensuring that children continue to have a positive relationship with their fathers. And when they don’t do this – most often because of fears of their children’s safety in the care of an abusive father, or concerns for the children’s well-being with a father who has shown little interest in parenting in the past – they are punished by a family law system that hails fathers’ rights as being paramount.
    We hold the concept of the mother-child bond as being on the highest pedestal – but only when she is firmly ensconced in a relationship with the father.
    We know that a child’s bond with its primary parent is essential to a child’s ongoing emotional and social development. And yet the family law system is deliberately structured to ignore past behaviors within the family and focus on the future – a future which often involves damaging the attachment between the primary parent (mother) and the child to ensure that fathers maintain their patriarchal rights over children.
    We need to examine the basis of the patriarchal family and how this is the driving force behind such inequalities for women and scrutinize how the structure of the patriarchal family can be a perilous place for women and children.
    I will be writing more on this issue – there is so much more to write!
    For more information see articles and research at the WEAVE website.
    And Women’s Safety After Separation website.