Supervised Visitation Centers
New York, New York --- December 6, 2011 .... The UN, which has a long, documented history for bashing Israel at almost each and every opportunity, has come out today on behalf of divorced fathers and their children in Israel. It is unfortunate that thousands of loving, caring and responsible dads in Israel had to go to the UN to illustrate how blatant gender bias discrimination is under Israel law.
The UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights has declared that Israel discriminates against divorced fathers. That fathers in Israel who have gone through divorce often lose contact with their children solely because they are male. The United Nations has called upon Israel to cancel the Tender Years Clause that grants automatic custody to women for all children under six years of age. The UN has pointed out that the Jewish state, which is supposed to be well respected for its values when it comes to family, is said to be the last country in the world not to have canceled this legal clause.
Thousands of fathers in Israel are made into second class citizens as they are provided just a few hours a week to see their own children. Many can only see their children in a supervised center as a result of false charges being made against the men by their ex-wives. These criminal charges are never investigated by the court or by child welfare due to a lack of funding, making the fathers into "visitors" rather than full time dads. The fathers must find thousands of dollars to retain attorneys and forensic psychologists in order to clear their names, money for which the majority of dads in Israel do not have as a result of low wages and high taxes.
In the concluding remarks of meetings held in Geneva in November and December, the UN committee wrote that:
"The Committee is concerned that, in the case of a divorce, custody of children up to the age of six is always given to mothers, and that fathers are often required to pay child support awards that exceed their income, and if not that their freedom of movement is seriously curtailed. The Committee is concerned that divorced fathers often are required to visit their children in supervised visitation centers near me during their working hours, which leads to the accumulation of work absences and the risk of dismissal."
The UN in making this statement addresses the fact that as long as the father owes child support he is prevented from leaving the country, even if his work is international.
"The Committee recommends that the State party amend the Capacity and Guardianship Law so that custody of children up to the age of six is not always given to mothers, and ensure that child support awards do not lead to an inadequate standard of living for the father."
The UN in making the above statement addresses the law preventing and or limiting contact between father and child until the age of six. What is not stated here is that even after the age of six, family courts and child welfare departments from Tel Aviv, Ra'anana and Haifa to Jerusalem, Metulla and Eilat maintain this gender bias discrimination. Discrimination which often leads to PAS - Parental Alienation Syndrome where the mother poisons the child against the father and the father eventually gives up and walks away - leaving the child with no father role model.
The UN committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights comprises of independent experts and monitors the implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights by individual countries.
The UN committee heard testimony from representatives of the Israel Coalition for Children and Families, an Israeli group that fights for the rights of children and their fathers in divorce. Following the testimony, the experts posed questions to a 12-person delegation from Israel. A source on the committee said that the experts noted that there was a high suicide rate among divorced men in Israel, amounting to half of all suicides.
The divorced fathers from Israel also said that this was reportedly because family rights for divorced couples were very biased towards mothers and restricted access of men to children and the family home to a degree rarely seen in any other State, and that the situation for divorced fathers was "apparently hellish."
The UN asked if it was true that divorced fathers were not allowed to leave Israel until they had paid approximately 20 years of alimony. The Israeli delegation did not provide direct responses to these questions.
CCF was founded by Daniel Zer, a father who has not been able to see his own six-year-old son for over three years, allegedly because the child's mother does not want him to see him, and the social workers in Israel agreed with her that the child has no need for a father in his life.
The father filed a motion to the High Court and asked it to declare that Child Custody Services Seattle forbid the state from denying a child the right to family life. The High Court refused to declare that fathers have rights to see their children, based on international law.
Fathers 4 Justice Israel, another group of dedicated fathers which works with the Coalition for Children and Families, stated that fathers in Israel can carry M-16's in the IDF to protect the state, but are not allowed to carry their own children.
A spokesperson told the Israel News Agency that representatives of Fathers 4 Justice Israel had gone to Haiti after the 2009 earthquake to aid hundreds of children there in rebuilding orphanages, providing clean water and food and making certain that the children had electricity and clean beds to sleep in.
After risking their lives in Haiti, these fathers returned to Israel and where they were denied contact with their own children.
"The severe suffering that these fathers and their children go though cannot be measured," said J from Fathers 4 Justice Israel, who cannot use his real name as a result of gag orders that the secret family courts apply. "The emotional abuse that these fathers and their children are subjected to often leaves permanent scars. Many fathers commit suicide while the children's behavior remains greatly affected in terms of their being able to adjust to school, work, suffering from anxiety, depression and being able to create normal, healthy relationships."
"It's apparent that the Israel Ministry of Justice in Israel and Child Welfare departments simply do not care about the mental health of these fathers and their children. Hopefully, the UN can wake them up and place them in the spotlight for all global human rights organizations to see."