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News ::
Women's appeal from Northern Ireland (english)
28 Aug 2003
Modified: 05 Nov 2003
FOYLE WOMEN’S AID ISSUE URGENT APPEAL

Foyle Women’s Aid today have issued an urgent appeal for support and
help for a young Derry mother who is to be returned to the US against her
will with her two children under duress from her abusive ex partner
within the next few days. This young woman Cara Gunn fled the US last year after suffering years of abuse from her husband. However as soon as Cara left the US for Northern Ireland, her ex husband then enacted the Hague Convention against her saying that she had abducted his child, the younger of her two children.
FOYLE WOMEN’S AID ISSUE URGENT APPEAL

Foyle Women’s Aid today have issued an urgent appeal for support and
help for a young Derry mother who is to be returned to the US against her
will with her two children under duress from her abusive ex partner
within the next few days. This young woman Cara Gunn fled the US last year
after suffering years of abuse from her husband. However as soon as
Cara left the US for Northern Ireland, her ex husband then enacted the
Hague Convention against her saying that she had abducted his child, the
younger of her two children. Cara has been in Northern Ireland for a
full year since returning last August and has tried to challenge The Hague
Convention at the highest level possible by putting her case to the
High Court in Belfast. Unfortunately as in other cases in Northern Ireland
with women who have lived abroad, the High Court does not address the
issue of the abuse that Cara or other women have experienced and which
made them flee from life threatening situations.

Marie Brown, Area Management Co-ordinator of Foyle Women’s Aid today
issued an appeal, “This young woman is being returned to the US to a
state where nobody cares about the abuse that has happened to her and the
significant harm that has been recorded by a number of agencies here to
her children perpetrated by this man. She and her older child have no
rights to residency in the US and can only remain in the US for 90 days
before being returned to Ireland. Her husband wants her to leave her 5
year old boy and split him from his mother and sister, he has been
given full custody of this child by the Florida courts in her absence. Cara
has discovered since returning to Northern Ireland that this man has a
string of convictions in the US that were unknown to her from assault
and battery, to eluding police, and he holds at least six firearms, this
has made the prospect of returning even more terrifying. Despite this
he was given full support from the American Embassy in Belfast and
also legal aid was afforded to him in this country. Cara has no-one
or nothing and will not be afforded the same privilege in the US when
she returns. She has to fight to get this case into court in the US on
her return all on her own, she has no money and no legal representation
in the US as she does not hold residency there and has no home there.

This is a disgraceful situation and whilst you would not believe that
such a thing is possible in the 21st Century - unfortunately as has been
proven around the world, the human rights of abused women and their
children are of little or no consequence to courts or to governments.
Whilst the Hague Convention was designed to protect children from abduction
by one parent to a foreign country, there was no consideration that it
would prove an effective tool for abusive males to keep women and
children within their grasp away from their families. As all to often
happens in domestic violence and abuse if you want to know about rights then
talk to perpetrators of abuse.”

Cara after today’s judgement in the High Court has said: ”On the day I
left the US I did not make a decision not to return, all I knew was
that I needed to get home to my family and friends, I have suffered 5
years of abuse at the hands of this man, he had moved to a new partner and
threatened to take my son away from me and have me deported, which was
possible as I did not have full residency in the US. He stopped giving
me any financial support and even though I worked two jobs I could not
make ends meet. He abused my children in the most cruel way. My
instincts as a mother was to try get to my own family and gather some strength
to survive this, I had no idea of this Hague Convention and how
restrictive it is, I thought the courts would hear my story and understand”.

Marie Brown of Foyle Women’s Aid issued an appeal for support:

“Today we are calling on all the community to give their support to
challenging the Hague Convention and the lack of insight and knowledge of
domestic violence that lets this Convention return women and children
to abusive ex partners.

What we know from working and supporting these women is that when they
are fleeing this violence the last thing on their mind is this
convention or any law, they are fleeing to save their lives and the lives of
their children, if not from murder, from the abuse these families have
suffered. This young woman does not even have the right to remain in the
US as she has been issued with a 10 year ban from returning to the US.

This family is going to be split apart, with her youngest child of 5
being left in the US without his mother and his sister. I would ask any
of you reading this today to think, what if this was your child, your
daughter and son, your granddaughter? Could you leave a 5 year old child
behind and travel thousands of miles home without him or her?, would
you trust that this man who abused you and your children would maintain
contact and bring this child to Ireland regularly to see you? This is
further abuse again of this young woman and her children, but this time
by the courts and the narrow legal framework that has to be changed to
take account of domestic violence and the abuse of children”.

Foyle Women’s Aid are asking for the following support:

1. For financial support for this young woman and her children to
stay in a safe place in Florida when she is made to return for the 90
days and also for legal help as Cara does not qualify for legal aid in
the US

2. Contact your local politician or MLA and ask that they
investigate this issue and take positive action to support this woman and her
children

3. If you have any form of support that may be available to her
and her family in the Gainsville/Ocala area of Florida, please let us
know, or family or friends to provide support on a day to day basis when
Cara and her family return to Florida in any way

4. Contact any US based support groups and ask them to lobby and
campaign on this issue particularly in the Florida state

5. Email any website or group you may know of to inform them of
this issue and who may be able to spread information of Cara’s situation

6. Join our protest outside the High Court in Belfast on the day
of her return to the US, details to be issued later in the press

Ends

For more info:

Contact: Marie Brown, Foyle Women’s Aid, Pathways, 24, Pump Street,
L’Derry BT48 6JG. Tel: 028 71280060 Fax: 028 71 280061

Email: admin (at) foylewomensaid.org

Notes to Editors:

*Cara is available for interview via Foyle Women’s Aid
* http://www.hcch.net/e/index.html - Hague Conference on Private
International Law
* http://www.international-divorce.com/hagueconvention/ - International
Parental Child Abduction
*
http://www.lanecountylegalservices.org/FordhamLawReview.htm#Introduction
- International Child Abduction

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Comments

other side (english)
03 Nov 2003
Where is the other side of this story?
Re: Cara Gunn (english)
05 Nov 2003
in response to "Steve"'s comment on Mon 5th, what other side is there to this story? the facts are that a young woman, along with her children, suffered abuse at the hands of this man and, having no money, decided that it was in the best interests of herself & her children to return to a family environment which could help her both financially & emotionally. anyone who is a mother knows that a mother's instincts are to protect her children & provide for them as best she can; this is all Cara Gunn is guilty of. its an outrage that some silly law has decided that her actions are criminal. i mean, come on, another of these silly laws passed since we entered the European Union is that its also illegal in Britain to trade in pounds & ounces! who's responsible for thinking up all these great ideas?
typically it would have to be a man whose only comment on the tragedy of Cara Gunn is "what about the other side to the story". i doubt he's ever been in a position where he's had to worry about where the money's going to come from to clothe & feed a couple of kids, when he's already holding down 2 jobs & hasn't got much energy left for anything else. i would be interested to know what situation or background are behind his comment.
Cara Gunn (english)
05 Nov 2003
I agree with Aishleen's comment and would like to point out to Steve that if he had taken a couple of minutes to acquaint himself with the details of this situation, he would know that Mr Gunn has been offered the chance to put his side of the story forward, but declined. I wonder why?? Comments made such as Steve's are not helpful to anyone, he sounds as if he has nothing better to do but pass a pathetic comment on something which is of no real interest to him.
Re: Women's appeal from Northern Ireland (english)
02 Feb 2004
I do not feel that the Hague is a silly law. If it was your child that your spouse took off with than neither would you. I can understand needing your family at a time when you are going through a divorce but their are greater responsibilities, your children. As for the abuse issue, of course she is going to claim that she was abused after taking off, I mean what else was she going to say. What no one realizes is what good the Hague Law really does, it protects our children and us. I can only imagine what eberyone would be saying if these roles were reversed and the father had taken off with the child, maybe then you would be applauding the law that helpe bring him back to his mother.