Domestic violence is the most common form of violence against women. Domestic violence affects women disproportionately. Domestic violence may be present in about 70% of parental child abduction cases. Domestic violence remains a high priority for the EU.
The very timely and much needed POAM project gets on the way, led by the University of Aberdeen (‘the UK team’) and with a core consortium including Croatia, Germany and Italy. Dr Katarina Trimmings obtained EU funding for this major collaborative project which commenced in January 2019 and will last for 2 years. The project received funding from the European Union’s Rights, Equality and Citizenship Programme (2014-2020). The Protection of Abducting Mothers in Return Proceedings: Intersection between Domestic Violence and Parental Child Abduction will focus on work to prevent and combat gender-based violence and violence against children in the context of international parental child abduction.
The project will explore problems related to the operation of the Regulation 606/2013 on mutual recognition of protection measures in civil matters ('the Protection Measures Regulation’) and the Directive 2011/99/EU on the European Protection Order (‘the European Protection Order Directive’) in the specific context of parental child abduction cases between EU Member States (except Denmark) committed against the background of domestic violence. The project will address the difficult issues of protection of abducting mothers in return proceedings under the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (‘1980 Hague Convention Abduction Convention’) and the Council Regulation (EC) No 2201/2003 of 27 November 2003 concerning jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in matrimonial matters and the matters of parental responsibility, repealing Regulation (EC) No 1347/2000 (‘the Brussels IIa Regulation’) when these two instruments mandate the court of the State of refuge to order the return of the child to the State of the child’s habitual residence. Although it is not mandatory for the abducting parent to return together with the child, the abducting mother (in particular if she is the primary carer), will normally accompany the child back to the State of origin, even if it means that she has to compromise her own safety. The project will contribute towards the implementation of the Protection Measures Regulation and the European Protection Order Directive in the difficult area of parental child abduction, where the combination of the obligation to order the return of the child imposed on the court of the State of refuge by the 1980 Convention and the Brussels IIa Regulation, and the lack of consideration of the safety of the returning parent in either of these instruments means that abducting mothers who have been victims of domestic violence in the State of origin are often implicitly forced to return to that State without effective protective measures having been put in place.
The aim is to develop good practice and ensure that relevant professionals are trained in the application of the Protection Measures Regulation and the European Protection Order Directive in child abductions committed against the background of domestic violence.
The project kick-off meeting took place last month. It was convened and hosted at the University with the partnership and core project team attending including Dr Katarina Trimmings (UK), Dr Isla Callander (UK), Dr Onyója Momoh (UK); Professor Mirela Župan and Martina Drventić (Croatia); Professor Anatol Dutta (Germany); Professor Costanza Honorati and Claudia Pecorella (Italy). The meeting was very effective in strategically planning, managing and coordinating the project over the upcoming months. A key aspect of the project is the impending project workshops taking place across all partner Member States. The POAM workshops are designed to facilitate the exchange of knowledge and practical experience by experts in the area of the protection of women against domestic violence generally and/or in the specific context of parental child abduction. In the UK, the one-day event workshops will be hosted by the university and are scheduled to take place in May/June 2019.
In organising our call for experts to engage in the UK project workshops, we would be pleased to hear from anyone that may be interested in attending, who should get in touch with Onyoja Momoh at firstname.lastname@example.org.
by Dr Katarina Trimmings and Dr Onyója Momoh