Fathers unite against ‘bias’ in courts

2013-11-25 00:00

FATHERS who are tired of being kept away from their children are rising up to fight against what they says are gender biased court systems and discrimination by the justice system.

Gareth Bassage started the non-profit organisation Fathers United after reading how badly fathers are treated by the justice system. He read countless stories about how fathers are denied the right to see their children after divorce or separation.

“After reading the stories, I felt like I had to do something. This has nothing to do with ex-wives. My exes are wonderful mothers to my children. This is about fighting the injustice against fathers. No proper investigations are made into claims against fathers. A social worker writes a report based on what is said, not knowing that that report affects lives,” Bassage told The Witness.

Bassage said that most of the time the social workers just assume the claims are true and don’t go through the proper channels or obtain proof before submitting their reports.

Fathers United is the first of its kind in Pietermaritzburg. In the two months that it has been active, the organisation has recruited 148 members and organised a march from Woodburn Stadium to the Senior Family Advocate’s office in Church Street on Friday.

Vaughn Greene arrived at the march wearing a T-shirt with a picture of him and his three-year-old daughter. “I love my daddy, but the justice system doesn’t care” was printed on his T-shirt.

“My daughter lives 100 km away from me, but I have to drive 800 km to see her. I pick her up, bring her home, drop her off and return. The next day I do it all again. The family advocate’s report said that I can have overnight visits. I have been in court three times already trying to make this a court order. The last time I was in court, the magistrate told me the family advocate’s report is just a recommendation, she doesn’t have to follow it,” said Greene.

Greene said the organisation is to help support fathers who are fighting for their children. He said the law can be confusing and expensive and Fathers United tries to assist however it can.

Upon arriving at the senior family advocate’s office, Fathers United presented a letter outlining its objectives. Some of the objectives include, “equal treatment as guaranteed by the Constitution, the Gender Equality Act and the Bill of Rights;” and “children’s rights to a meaningful relationship with their fathers”.

The letter also states that the children, not women, are the real victims of the gender bias in the courts.

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