In 2020 the ‘Harm Panel’ appointed by the Ministry of justice, published a report on the family justice system. The panel reported that the family court system was failing and in private law, proceedings were creating further harm and trauma to children.  The government responded to this by publishing an implementation plan.

Two years on women’s Aid have published a report titled “Two years, too long: Mapping action on the Harm Panel’s Findings.”

Key findings of Women’s Aid include:

  • All of the survivors contributing to the report felt that their children’s thoughts, wishes or feelings had not been listened to or acted upon;• An underlying culture of misogyny, mother-blaming, and victim-blaming continues in the family courts;

    • Women continue to be accused of “parental alienation” when they raise valid concerns around domestic abuse and child safety;

    • Family court proceedings continue to be trauma-inducing, rather than trauma-aware.

A further point was that children are being forced into unsafe contact arrangements with abusive parents due to the court thinking that it is in the best interest of the children to see both parents.

Farah Nazeer, Chief Executive of Women’s Aid, said:

“The current system, based on misogyny, victim-blaming, and a lack of understanding trauma is as tragic as it is unacceptable: we must show women and children that they will be listened to, believed and supported.

“We call on the government to ensure the Harm Panel recommendations are actioned as a matter of urgency- there can be no further delay. We are ready and willing to work with agencies and organisations across the family courts system to ensure progress: only by working together can we achieve the results we need. We know that the implementation of the Harm Panel report can deliver real change, and at Women’s Aid, we will not stop campaigning until all women and children are safe.”