Disturbing scenes showing four girls being dragged kicking and screaming on to a plane in Brisbane to be sent back to their Italian father caused outrage across Australia today. The sisters, aged between nine and 15, were ordered by a judge in Australia to be returned to their father in Italy, despite the children’s wishes to stay in Queensland with their mother.If you're a parent of either sex who claims to be concerned about the well-being of your children, you cannot kidnap them and attempt to forcibly keep them from their mother or their father. The family courts are, for the most part, complete travesties with no regard for the rule of law, but it shouldn't take a law or a court to make it clear to everyone that children must not be removed from the geographic proximity of a parent by the state or the other parent without the first parent's permission.
The girls’ mother, who was married to an Italian, had taken them to Australia from Italy for a holiday two years ago – and then kept them in the country. The Courier Mail newspaper reported that it had learned the mother of the girls clung in desperation to the rear of an Australian Federal Police car as it drove away with three of the sisters from a house where they had been staying.
She collapsed in the road sobbing at the end of what was described as a day of unfathomable anxiety and stress.
A bitter international fight ensued between the parents, resulting in an Australian judge ruling the sisters must be returned to their father. For weeks the girls, who have joint Australian and Italian citizenship, had remained in hiding with their great-grandmother after a court ordered they should be returned to their father in Italy.
The heavily emotional angle of this story strongly suggests mothers have some sort of implicit right to abduct and abscond with their children that somehow trumps the legal system. How, one wonders, can that be rationally justified in a nominally equalitarian legal system?