Child Custody Determinations in Cases Involving Intimate Partner Violence: a Human Rights Analysis
Jay G. Silverman, PhD, Cynthia M. Mesh, PhD, Carrie V. Cuthbert, JD, Kim Slote, JD, and Lundy Bancroft, BA
Jay G. Silverman and Cynthia M. Mesh are with the Department of Society Human Development and Health, Division of Public Health Practice, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Mass. Carrie V. Cuthbert and Kim Slote are with the Women’s Rights Network, Wellesley Centers for Women, Wellesley College, Wellesley, Mass. Lundy Bancroft trains professionals and authors books in Northampton, Mass.
Requests for reprints should be sent to Jay G. Silverman, PhD, Harvard School of Public Health, 677 Huntington Ave, Boston, MA 02115 (e-mail: email@example.com ).
Accepted June 23, 2003.
Intimate partner violence and child abuse are recognized both as public health concerns and as violations of human rights, but related government actions and inactions are rarely documented as human rights violations in the United States.
Men who abuse female partners are also highly likely to abuse the children of these women. However, family courts are reported to often ignore risks posed by abusive men in awarding child custody and visitation. Battered women involved in child custody litigation in Massachusetts (n = 39) were interviewed. A recurring pattern of potential human rights violations by the state was documented, corresponding to rights guaranteed in multiple internationally accepted human rights covenants and treaties.
The human rights framework is a powerful tool for demonstrating the need for legal, social, and political reform regarding public health concerns.
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