Today the headlines are full of the latest tragic incident involving a child killed by a parent who is estranged from the other parent.
Two similar high-profile recent Victorian cases come readily to mind – the horrific case of Arthur Freeman throwing five-year old Darcey off the Westgate Bridge en route to her first day of kindergarten; Robert Farquharson drowning his three boys in the Winchelsea Dam.
A mere two weeks ago I was horrified to see the story of Ramazan “Ramzy” Acar who had announced on Facebook his intention to kill his two-year old daughter, shortly before stabbing her to death.
At the time I as wondered why there did not seem to be such a public outcry over this death as there had been in say the Freeman or Farquharson cases. I specifically remember the story did not even make the front page.
I wondered at the time if we, the public, are in some ways becoming a little immune to stories such as these. Sadly there seems to be no shortage of similar stories.
Many years ago I worked in family law and saw first hand the trauma a separation inevitably has on families. One thing that always bothered me, was how often children seemed to be used as pawns to gain some kind of advantage over the ex-partner.
I could not understand it then and I understand it even less having had children of my own. Sure I love my husband but there is no part of me that could imagine being so angry with him after separation that I would be prepared to kill my babies to ‘get back at him’.
One of my female family law colleagues had a client whose children were killed by their father on an access visit. I still remember how guilty she felt for having being good enough at her job to help her client gain custody, only to watch the tragedy unfold.
I regularly hear claims when these incidents occur, that this is evidence the Family Court needs overhauling. I’m not suggesting the Court is perfect, but I can’t help but think this is a simplistic response.
According to the Hun, Acar said in one of several text messages sent to his ex after he had kidnapped their daughter:-
“Payback’s a bitch, how does it feel.
I loved you more than her and that’s why I am doing this”.
In both Freeman and Farquharson’s case, the children were killed when the fathers were on access visits with their children. And in both incidents, it has been reported the fathers were motivated by revenge against their partners, rather than in anger against the Court’s decisions.
According to tonight’s reports, there was no Family Court involvement in the separation of Kyla’s parents.
I have no idea what the answer to this. How do we prevent these tragedies from happening again and again? All I know is, every time I hear of yet another story like this, I feel sick to the bottom of my stomach.
And I, generally a non-believer, pray this will be the last time I hear that a parent has murdered their child following the family breakup.
As George Negus said tonight on 6.3o pm – there are more questions than answers in a case like this.
I’m making sure I kiss my children goodnight tonight accompanied by an extra tight hug.
Ciao for now,