Below is our letter to MPs. Please write ASAP to your MP and other MPs you may have a relationship with, to urge them to delete or amend the worst aspects of this Bill. While families are impoverished under austerity cuts, children are increasingly being removed rather than mothers given protection, resources and support to enable their children to stay with them. You can use some of our points if you want to, or write your own.
There is increasing opposition to this Bill, please urge your MP to also sign Early Day Motion 626 Children’s Social Care against the privatisation of child services.
Please send us a copy of any letters you write.
Re: Children and Social Work Bill - second reading in the House of Commons, 5 December
In the name of women who are victims of domestic violence and their children, we urge you to speak out against the worst aspects of this Bill, which aims to increase the number of children taken into care and adopted, and introduces the privatisation of children services – profit making at the expense of children’s rights and safety. There is increasing opposition to this Bill (please sign Early Day Motion 626 ‘Children’s Social Care’).
Domestic violence and child protection:
In our experience, children are increasingly being removed from mothers who are victims of violence rather than providing them with the protection, resources and support they need to enable them to rebuild their lives safely with their children.
The charity Family Right’s Group reported an 803% rise in inquiries in which domestic violence was a factor between 2007-08 and 2012-13. Domestic violence is a more common reason now for state removing children than mental illness or drug and alcohol misuse.
In 78% of cases we have been dealing with, children were removed or were under threat of being removed after the mother suffered violence. Even when she tried to escape violence or after the man was imprisoned for rape, his violence was used as a reason to separate already traumatised children from their mother — another trauma with lifelong consequences.
The mother’s and children’s account of domestic violence are often disbelieved or ignored. HMIC documented last week how the police have not responded properly to children at risk of serious violence.
Instead of redressing these wrongs, the Bill takes no account of children’s wishes and feelings even when they have witnessed violence from their father against their mother and want to stay with her. They are not asked how they feel and who they want to live with.
Mothers are in a catch 22 – should they report domestic violence to the police or not? Mothers who report are referred to social services and may have their children removed. Mothers who don’t report risk being accused of failing to protect them from witnessing domestic violence. Either way mother and child are being punished.
A double standard operates in removing children from their mothers. In family courts a child’s contact with the father is prioritised; children are forced to see their father, often no matter what violence he has committed. See press release and report by Women’s Aid about Nineteen Child Homicides many of which could have been avoided, had the children not been forced by court orders into contact with their violent fathers.
Speeding up removals and adoption for profit, not protection:
Protecting vulnerable women and children should be a priority for the government. But the Bill removes statutory protection in the name of ‘innovation’, effectively privatising children’s services. Institutions are currently being investigated for the mass rape and other abuse of children in care – removing statutory protections and privatising children’s services is a charter for rape.
While the Lords took this privatisation out, do not let the government put it back in.
Victimising children and mothers on low incomes:
Benefit cuts and sanctions are making mothers more vulnerable to violence and cutting off women’s means of escaping violence.
According to the Women’s Budget Group, women are the target of 85% of the cuts to benefits and tax help by 2020.
Refuges have won exemption from the benefit cap, but what about victims not in refuges? The cap is going to hit 116,000 households with up to 500,000 children impoverished.
We don’t know how many of these impoverished children will be taken into care under the guise of neglect as their mothers live in insecure housing and are skipping meals to feed their children.
While mothers are judged harshly and refused support, institutions which have been shown to be negligent or complicit in the widespread sexual and other abuse of children continue to be promoted as preferable.
We hope you will oppose this Bill.
Women Against Rape
- firstname.lastname@example.org 020 7482 2496