A child custody reform that could harm women and children

A new bill on child care and custody recently presented to the Italian parliament could endanger women and children (especially in cases of domestic abuse).

Ingrid Colanicchia
Ingrid Colanicchia MicroMega, Italy
Source: MicroMega
A child custody reform that could harm women and children - NewsMavens
Simone Pillon. Wikicommons

Why this story matters:

Northern League senator -- and ultra-conservative Catholic -- Simone Pillon can try to embellish reality as he sees fit, but his bill, which he touts as an initiative to defend co-parenting, has in fact a dark core that could endanger women and children.

The bill contains several worrying provisions, like systematic and mandatory mediation if there are underage children, meaning mediation would need to take place even in cases of domestic abuse. Furthermore, it requires equal custody time with each parent and introduces the concept of "parental aleniation", a controversial and much criticized psychological theory stating that a parent can manipulate a child so as to make he or she hostile towards the other parent.

To give you a better idea of Pillon's character, a few weeks ago he said that if a woman wants an abortion, she should be offered money to be dissuaded, and if she still wants an abortion then "we will prevent it".

And the senator is certainly not the only one in parliament to hold such views. Just last week, the parliamentary cross-party group "Life, Family and Freedom" was established. It counts 150 center-right MPs and senators and aims to defend the so-called "traditional family" as well as to fight the right to abortion.

Everything seems to indicate that we are facing a renewed alliance between politicians and the ultra-conservative Catholic world.

These will be hard times for the protection of women's rights.

Details from the story:

  • On 10 September, the Senate Judicial Commission received bill 735 on the shared custody of children, known as the Pillon bill because of its first signatory, Northern League senator Simone Pillon.
  • The Pillon bill introduces mandatory mediation when there are underage children, equal division of the time spent with each parent, and the concept of so-called "parental alienation" (the process of manipulating a child to show unwarranted hostility or fear towards the other parent).
  • The bill aims to reform a law passed in 2006, which introduced co-parenting of minor children in case of separation except in cases where this may be harmful to children. The signatories of the Pillon bill believe that the 2006 law has proven to be a failure since "Italy lags behind the industrialized world when it comes to co-parenting by separated couples".
  • Various associations and legal experts have spoken out against the bill, highlighting many potentially harmful aspects for minors and women, especially in situations of abuse and violence.
  • The association "D.i.Re Donne in rete contro la violenza" (which brings together many non-institutional violence prevention centers) underlined that the bill: a) in establishing mandatory mediation, ignores the pervasiveness and prevalence of male violence which is a significant factor in requests for separation, and b) by proposing equal custody time without child support payment, also ignores the imbalance of access to resources in a country with very high rates of female unemployment and where the wage gap is still present . 
  • “D.i.Re Donne in rete contro la violenza” has launched a petition for the bill to be withdrawn, and calls for global mobilization in Rome on November 10.
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