Friday, August 10, 2007

"I don't like Mummy"

The papers in the UK are full of the news of the guilty verdict against a mother and her boyfriend in the death of 4 year old Leticia Wright. Everyone's shocked and appalled that a mother can murder her own child, as if this never, ever happens. The usual pathetic media circus and wails of "how could this happen?" without actually offering any good reason, nor really caring to find one because it's altogether more fun to run around tearing your hair out than do something constructive.

Well, I found one excellent reason, and I'd like to tear someone's hair out.

I went looking, metaphorically, for the father, Zaheer Hussain -- none of today's reports carried much about him except that everyone felt terribly sorry for him, which I am sure he finds immensely comforting. Digging through Google news reports, I had to go back to Jul 19th, during the trial, and found this:
"[He] told Bradford Crown Court he had last been with his daughter about two months before she died. He told the jury that the girl's mother, Sharon Wright, 23, had then stopped contact between him and his little girl."

And I am not the tiniest bit surprised.

“We were in a shopping mall and I told her it was time to go. She wasn’t having it and crying and she didn’t want to go and said she wanted to stay with me. I couldn’t do anything to keep her because Sharon would have argued and I don’t know what I could have done about it.’’ He added: “It was difficult to take."

“I have never seen her like that. She proper kicked me, smacked me, punched me, screaming and crying ‘no, no, I don’t want to go’.“I just had to pick her up the best I could with her still hitting me and took her back.’’

Mr Hussain told the court that to try and cheer Leticia up he had taken her to a park in Wakefield because she was “really depressed and crying’’ before dropping her off with Wright at the home she shared with her co-accused, Peter Seaton, 22, on Almondbury Bank, Moldgreen. “She was still crying,’’ Mr Hussain told the jury. “I still remember that face. Just sad, just not wanting to go.’’ He added that after that incident whenever he phoned up and asked to have Leticia Wright told him she was busy. The court was told that two months later Leticia was dead.

The child was killed by more than 100 injuries inflicted over a period of four weeks. Did you get that? That's 100 detectable injuries known to be inflicted over 28 days, on a four year old child. There were cigarette burns, bruises and bite marks all over her body. How do you feel about that? What if it were your child?

The father could do nothing because 1) he didn't know and 2) he couldn't find out because the mother was blocking contact, a maneuver so common and so accepted today that he would take the heat for trying to do anything about it.

It wasn't even the first time: the mother had also made off with the daughter before, not telling the father where they'd gone for eight months. This ought to have been central to the whole case: how did she keep the father and his family out? Why is this allowed? Why do we live in this state of denial, wringing our hands about bad mothers, drug addict boyfriends, the awful injuries, the sustained torture of a poor little girl and not ask the obvious question? Why was she allowed to keep dad out?

What are the child services saying?
"Certain aspects could have been handled differently"

I bet they could. Like actually doing something about mothers who stand between children and their fathers, like calling this despicable behavior the abuse that it is instead of waiting for it to be way the *&%6 too late. The hypocrisy nauseates me.

Godammit, what is the matter with these people?

10 comments:

Carrie said...

This leaves me angry and sad. Here you have a father who actually cares for his child, and yet is screwed by the system and the ex. That poor little girl and the guilt her father must feel. When will society wake up? Sometimes mothers aren't great, but yet, more often than not they are awarded custody.

Mina said...

I have a story I thought you might like to hear, given that you're partially responsible for making it happen. I've left half of it in your comments section before, but I don't know if you ever got it since you never published it on the post I left it on.

Like a good bit of your readers, I'm guessing anyway, I didn't know my father all that well. My parents had seperated before I had any memory of them being together. My earliest memories began in Saudi Arabia (though I was born in the states) with my parents already seperated. I don't know what custody agreement they made, but I did visit my father, though I don't have any recollection of how often.

This ended abruptly at the age of 4 or 5 when we moved to Egypt. This time my father didn't follow. Life went on and he faded out of the picture. It was several years before I'd spoken to him again, this time on the phone. I spoke to him here and there over the phone for a few years, but nothing substantial, mostly he just asked how we were doing.

At the age of 12 we moved again, this time to the US. This time he completly faded out of my life, no phonecalls. It wasn't until I was 17 that I spoke to him again, when my grandfather (his father) died and I went to the funeral (which my father was unable to attend).

There's a lot of detail I've omitted here for the sake of brevity, but in short aside from a bried stint in my childhood, he was never a big part of my life. I liked him well enough as a child, but after we moved I assumed that the family had moved their seperate ways, that he became concerned with his new wife and children and since we weren't nearby anymore he'd let us (my brother and I) go. I never held this against him, though at some level I was upset by it as I thought my step-mother had replaced us in the eyes of my father.

Imagine my surprise at the age of 20, a year after I'd moved out from the crushing heel of my mother, to find an email from him in my inbox. He wanted to know everything, who I was, what had happened in my life. A million and a half questions to answer. To be honest, it scared me. Why hadn't he taken an interest in me before? Why was it that he was contacting me now?

At the time I was smarting from a rocky relationship with my mother. I knew my father was religious from some early memories, and after a few sparks over my mother's religious sensibilities and me being gay, I wasn't too keen on repeating the experience with yet another person. I was tired of justifying who I was to people, and the idea of butting heads with a man who had the audacity to tell me to tell him everything after he'd been out of my life for so long was not an appealing prospect in the least.

So I ignored him. A few polite emails back and then I stopped responding. No, it wasn't fair to him, and now I regret it.

It is over a year later that I find your blog. I must have read over a year's worth of backposts in a single sitting. Two things came to mind;

1)I've never considered this whole situation from my father's perspective. I owe him a chance on matters of principle

2)How honest or accurate was the story that my mother had given me about their seperation? She rarely spoke about him at all, but when she did it was never kindly, always the sort of thing like "Your father travels to America every year, yet he can't be bothered to take the 30 minute (from Saudi Arabia to Egypt) trip to come visit you."

I felt like I should contact him again, but I wasn't sure what to tell him. I spent a few weeks mulling it over in my head, when my brother called me. He was taking a trip to England to take care of some family estate; when I found out he's going alone I offered to come with him for company. He said "I was going to ask you to come, but I was planning on visiting our father afterwards and I didn't think you'd want to go for it (he knows I ignored my father)."

This was opportunity. I went with him, met my father, and I'm writing this now that I'm back in the States.

I don't know where to begin now because it's overwhelming, but he's a good man. He's more than a good man, I spent two weeks with him and I've grown fond of him in a way I would not have thought possible.

I was also blindsided by his version of the events. Apparantly he didn't know where we had gone to after we'd moved to Egypt. My mother had simply kidnapped us, and he spent years trying to track us down, eventually getting a family member to tell him where we were living. The same happened when we moved to the US; it was years before he'd found out where we were by pulling it out of a family member again.

He described to me how he'd wake up in the middle of the night, forgetting where or who he was but only remembering my brother and I, or how it was over a decade before he stopped being angry over it.

I never knew he cared. It never occured to me that he might not have known where we had gone to. It never occured to me that he didn't know we were leaving till we were gone. I'd always thought he wasn't in my life because he didn't want to be.

He's happy to be in touch with me again. I could tell it's opened up a lot of old pain for him. I've been ripped up emotionally from all the new information I've recieved, though being reunited was a lot more positive than negative.

I don't know if this story can be consolation for you or anyone in your position. It saddens me that it took near two decades for my father to be reunited with his children, and it saddens me when I think of how much better my life would have been had he been there to help me when I needed it.

But I'd like to thank you for opening my eyes and making me look at it from his perspective. Establishing contact with him again has worked out well so far, and I think it will remain good well into the future.

Anonymous said...

As a father of 2 boys that has had most of the visitation games played against me, I found that the only effective method was to give a single warning. If anything happened to my children, the responsible parties would not survive the week. This worked with only a single demonstration of putting a live in "boyfriend" on sticks for a couple of months. Sadly, this child was not afforded the protection of a father that was freely available. Given the torture aspect, these people should be put down with prejudice, like any diseased animal.

John Doe said...

Mina, thank you for your comment, which raises many conflicting emotions from being happy to have helped even while not knowing so, and that you have made contact with your father again, to the sickening feeling I always get of hearing others' experiences of disenfranchisement and loss. I know what your father went through.

I hope it all goes well for you and your father. I imagine that it will not all be easy, I hope that you and he can be strong for each other.

(Also, I have looked for an old comment from you that didn't make it and didn't find one. Perhaps it got eaten by the system. Given what you've said here, it's unlikely that I'd have passed on it...!)

Metaphysicallyfit said...

Oh, that poor little girl, and that poor daddy.

This one really hits close to home. I didn't meet my dad until I was 15, after the state placed me in my grandmother's care. My mother was a horrible person and dad had no idea where we were, or what was happening. I didn't actually tell him until I was 20. We're pretty close now, but I will never tell him the full horror of what she did to me. It's not his fault and I don't want him to feel bad about it. Is that wrong? I don't think so, but others have told me different.There are so many fathers and kids going through this every day! When will something be done?!

grahamg said...

Dear Disenfranchised father,

I'm another disenfranchised father, as it happens, and am just posting here to tell you I admire the passion you've shown concerning this case.

My efforts to probe the conscience of those in authority over us has included asking child protection agencies whether contact between fathers and their children after divorce or separation of their parents might help protect them, just the issue you are raising here.

I didn't learn all that much from my efforts, partly because no UK based child protection agency could even be bother to respond to my emails, but some US based one were generally helpful and some said they believed contact with fathers could assist in preventing others abusing them. However, another US based organisation seemed to think they were the only people who could protect children certainly not us fathers anyway, and maybe that meant they saw us as the cause of the problem or we were all likely to be a danger to our kids.

It beggars belief that responsible government organisations have not thought more carefully about whether allowing contact between fathers and their children to lapse might increase the possibility of abuse, but like most things in life any of us might come up with it isn't a totally unconsidered idea by someone else - for example there is some mention of the possibility in UK government leaflets on child protection.

However, given the attention given to all other aspects of child abuse it does seem incredible more research hasn't been done into this topic.

How could you do it you might ask?

Simply by asking those children who have unfortunately been abused by people other than their parent, and found santuary following the authorities intervening whether or not they had any contact with their father. Wouldn't that achieve something perhaps?

I have found one young woman myself through a US based forum, who told me she had been abused by her stepfather and tried to tell her mother this had happened only to have her words ignored. She had been cut off from her father she said, and believed if she had been able to maintain contact with him she might have been protected from the abuse.

There are many more details concerning this terrible case we are now discussing I'm sure, and on another forum I use the failings of the social services is receiving alot of scrutiny (as they are a group of people falsely accused of abusing their own children by these same authorities).

They seem to have failed to pick up on the exclusion of this father (and its possible implication), but as you say it is hardly note worthy when so many of us suffer the same fate. I have posted your comments there, and hope it has an impact - it should do anyway shouldn't it.

It is ironic that so many parents get falsely accused of abuse, either by those in authority or by their ex. partners, whilst children like this one can still slip through the net.

You could say that there has got to be a link between the number of false allegations and this failure, because time wasted on children who are at no risk (quite the reverse many of us parents seek to protect our child as we've gone through already). Those in authority certainly always claim a lack of resources as the reason children slip through the child protection net, so that would logically seem to support the assertion time wasted on false allegations are a factor.

I have met a few fathers who were falsely accused of abuse by their ex.'s, and had a very difficult time countering the accusations (luckily I never faced this kind of obstruction though fair play was never a particularly strong point from my ex. at least she never stooped that low).

However, so many fathers are excluded without any suggestions of abuse being made, which is one reason why I've tried to petition our UK government for a rebuttable legal presumption of contact for parents where there is no question of abuse (see http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/Parental-rights/)

If parents are so dispensable that you don't even have to have harmed your child in any way in order to lose all contact, and can find no support for your parental role in family courts, then I believe all parents are or may feel their role is in jeopardy (maybe this lack of parental rights over their children fuels those of our ex.'s who seek to diminish our role in order to protect their own).

Sorry I'm on my hobby horse here, but I hope I've added to your debate about this very serious subject.

Regards, Graham

JeanGray said...

I'm just very sorry to all the competent fathers who are victims of this awful system. Truth be told, I have not met a case like these here in my country the Philippines, yet.

Sometimes, relationships won't last our lifetime, but when two people decide to part I just hope they would not deprive the child/children their other parents company. Its unfair to them!

I'd definitely link you, so many more would know! Great articles sir! Please keep it up.

SinKiss said...

this is just a shame, so young to go through such abuse at the hands of her mother.

Yet I know that there is Group of women will claim that the father cause this to happen.

by blaming he for not being there, then again if he was there, they would be blaming him for her death.

Uncharted Thoughts said...

Far too often the mother only holds on to the children to use as a tool to hurt her ex.

This is a really sick example of child abuse.

This is a sad day for humanity.
I'm ashamed to be part of the human race.

Emily's Dad said...

When I was in Florida dealing with my daughter after she'd been missing and endangered for a year while her mom was doing the wild thing with the new guy in Kansas, I had to go through a series of reunification visitation with the mom present because as the Judge said "If the child can see mom there, it doesn't get any better than that!"

This is the same mom that has left my child to go blind in an eye claiming she had nothing wrong with it while she gave her up for adoption as part of a baby sale in Wisconsin which put her into the care and contact of a convicted pedophile.

www.emilyrosehindle.blogspot.com

But I'm the one they think needs to be watched - so much so that I've now been banned from entering the US for court ordered visitation and to finish court hearings in the US.

It's not just that children are being sold down the river by having one of their parents judicially or extra-judicially excised from their lives, it's the mountain of evidence of neglect and abuse that is perpetrated by residential parents, typically mothers that sails past unnoticed unless a child is tortured to death and it makes the headlines.

Every judge, every social workers, every CAFCASS oficial and every police officer who dealt with this mother and her boyfriend should be compelled to stare at the autopsy photographs and read the reports of this child's injuries.

The safest way to protect our children is to make sure they have Dad in their lives - stop treating us like we're the problem, we are the solution!