Neiegkeeten
10.12.2020

Mr. Prime Minister Xavier BETTEL When Will You STOP!!! Gender-Parental Discrimination of Fathers in Luxembourg Institutions?

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“LUXEMBOURG LET’S MAKE IT HAPPEN” — This is the Luxembourg signature.

Luxembourg wants to be a modern, dynamic and open minded society, competitive financial center, innovative and environment friendly economy with number of government initiatives including building new tram, new football stadium, legalizing cannabis, same sex marriages, adoption of children by homosexual couples and planing to introduce third gender in addition to already existing male and female. We have even created Luxembourg Space Agency. Yet, we fail to assure parental-gender equality in government institutions. This negligence leads to discrimination of fathers in Luxembourg family courts and violation of children’s rights assured by numerous conventions and international legal instruments including United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Examples of gender discrimination in Luxembourg institutions:

1. Despite of the recent changes in the Luxembourg Civil Code introduced on November 1st, 2018, described and presented to the public as “revolutionary”, 50/50 Equal Shared Parenting – Alternating Residence (Residence Alternée) is still not a default rule and rarely introduced by Luxembourg Family Courts. The legislators and judges in most cases remain immune to the evidence provided by over 40 years of empirical studies, scientific conclusions and consensus among internationally recognized psychologists confirming that 50/50 Equal Shared Parenting – Alternating Residence is the most effective model bringing emotional stability to children during separation and after divorce of the parents.

Homophobia, pay gap, racism are not the problems Luxembourg government should be most concerned about. The problem is the violation of children’s rights and parental discrimination of fathers in Luxembourg Family Courts that leads to fatherless homes. A serious challenge Luxembourg as a society must face. Yet, we never hear about this neither from the Prime Minister Xavier BETTEL nor any other member of the current Luxembourg government. We do not recall a single time Taina BOFFERDING, Minister of Equality between Women and Men, has ever the issue to initiate public discussion. Why? Is it because there is no political incentive or is it because of fear to antagonize feminist lobby in Luxembourg?

Discriminatory and gender bias decisions of the Luxembourg Family Courts assigning children to one of the parents during custody hearings — in Luxembourg 97% to 3% ratio in favor of mothers — using template approach and without consideration for family life, ignoring gender-parental equality and children’s rights stand in violation of numerous conventions and international legal instruments. Yet, Luxembourg officials pretend everything functions well and try to take every possible measure to prevent the topic to be raised and discussed publicly.

List of violated Conventions:

  • Article 3(3) of the Treaty on European Union established in 1992 to “combat social exclusion and discrimination, to promote social justice and protection, equality between women and men, solidarity between generations and protection of the rights of the child”.
  • Article 24 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union introduced as part of the Treaty of Lisbon in 2009 “to guarantee the protection of the rights of the child by the EU institutions and by EU countries when implementing EU law”.
  • The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child from 1989. The first universal instrument of a legally binding nature to address the rights of the child. There are currently 193 parties to the Convention including all 28 members of the EU. Although the Convention addresses the civil, political, social, economic and cultural rights of children there are continuous examples of violations of the children’s rights across all EU members states including Luxembourg.
  • Article 8 of theEuropean Convention on Human Rights ratified by Luxembourg in 1953 providing a right to respect for one’s “private and family life, his home and his correspondence”.

2. Following separation or divorce of parents only the “residential parent” where children are officially registered can claim the children. Even with 50/50 Shared Parenting – Alternating Residence model (Residence Alternée) where children live equal amount of time with both parents the “non-residential” parent is not recognized by Luxembourg institution as a parent who contributes in raising the kids. Regardless of personal income and number of children, all financial benefits, tax preferential treatment and financial aid including monthly family allocation go to the parent where the children are officially registered. In Luxembourg this means mother in 9 out of 10 cases.

3. If a “non-residential” parent (in Luxembourg this means father in 9 out of 10 cases) takes his child / children for appointment with a doctor or a dentist, pays for the visit and then two weeks after the payment was made tries to receive reimbursement either by visiting CNS in person or sending the invoice by post the parent must fill out a “3rd party” form. This procedure downgrades the “non-residential” parent with full parental authority to a 2nd grade parent.

4. After separation or divorce even with equal residence alternée the “non-residential” parent is by definition and template approach required to pay child support. This also includes cases where expenses associated with raising children are evenly distributed between both parents. This results in the residential parents not only receiving all financial aids available but also additional money in a form of child support.

5. When applying for any financial aid available to Luxembourg residents with low income (housing etc.) the “non-residential” parent whose child or children live with 50% of the time during the calendar year is not allowed to put his kids on the application and include them in the overall calculation of the financial aid. Not being able to claim own children drastically decreases the amount of the financial help.

6. The “non-residential” parent with parental authority cannot obtain replacement of the child’s CNS card. A card just like IDs or passports are the basic but the most important documents allowing a parent to fully exercise his rights when traveling with a child / children. Currently in Luxembourg the CNS cards can be ordered on line in 5 to 10 seconds but they are only send to the address where the children are registered (in 9 out of 10 cases in Luxembourg is where the mother lives). If the “residential parent” chooses not to handover the cards the only option left is to go to court. This itself violates the principle element of parental authority and the right of a parent to fully exercise his rights guaranteed by the Luxembourg Constitution and Luxembourg Code Civil. 

7. There are continuous examples and cases where crèches, Maison Relais, Croix Rouge, public offices, hospitals, doctors, school teachers send information concerning children only to one address (the residential address). FAD has had to provide support to many fathers wrongly advised that the above mentioned institutions are allowed to send information concerning children only to the address where the children are officially registered.

8. There are 10 shelters in Luxembourg available for women, girls and mothers with children victims of domestic violence. Even though nearly 40% of victims of annually reported domestic violence in Luxembourg are male there is not a single shelter available for men, boys and fathers with children victims of domestic violence. The none-existence of such facility has been confirmed to FAD by  Croix-Rouge luxembourgeoise (Luxembourg Red Cross). Despite of that Luxembourg Ministry of Equal Rights between Women and Men continuously misleads the public on its website that such shelters exist.

There are indeed a few studio apartments available where men can find asylum but these places are limited in numbers with a waiting list and in most cases these facilities are not appropriate to receive fathers with children. When information about “shelters” for men in Luxembourg is presented the data is mixed up and includes facilities for male victims of Human Trade available in Luxembourg as part of a separate project the Ministry is involved in along with CARITAS Luxembourg and Fondation Maison de la Porte ouverte.

This initiative is also supported by two state financed services set up to help victims of Human Trade. The  first one is SAVTEH, run by Femmes en détresse, an organization fully dedicated to provide assistance to women only. The second one is COTEH, run by above-mentioned Fondation Maison de la Porte ouverte, an organization that provides help mainly to children, adolescents, young mothers, women and immigrant workers in psychosocial distress.

Locations of the facilities available for victims of Human Trade are usually strictly confidential. These places are in general not recommended for fathers with children because of the dangerous nature behind the project with often criminal organizations in the background and the need of providing maximum security for the victims of Human Trade. 

9. There are numerous gender specific organizations funded by the Luxembourg government and created to help only female residents of Luxembourg. These organizations provide free of charge consultation, financial aid, shelters, free legal assistance etc. Aside from InfoMann (one psychologist) there is not a single organization providing similar assistance and available to men, boys and fathers with children victims of domestic violence. Considering that the Ministry of Equal Rights between Women and Men is generally considered as a feminist organization funded by the Luxembourg state and keeping in mind the biased approach the Ministry takes to advocate “equality between genders” the fact that InfoMann is entirely financed by the Ministry does not need further elaboration.

10. In accordance to the information acquired from the Ministry of Equality between Women and Men there is one gender focused and “interesting” project called “HOLD” (Red Cross Association / Riicht Eraus). When providing information about Riicht Eraus in January 2019, the Ministry described the program as “specifically dedicated to male perpetrators of domestic violence”……..What about nearly 40% of annually reported female perpetrators? The choice of name Riicht Eraus itself is appalling.

11. In case there is violence reported in a household, Luxembourg Police upon arrival is to investigate and establish the reason behind the reported incident. If no clarity as of who was the instigator or perpetrator of the alleged violent act and there is no evidence confirming that violence took place but it cannot be excluded that a “physical violent act” could potentially take place or even if there is visible physical evidence of abuse inflicted by female resident on a male resident of the house it is the man who will be removed from the house.

TO BE CONTINUED…

 

“Mir wëlle bleiwe wat mir sinn an mir kënnen e Beispill fir den Rescht vun Europa sinn.” –

– “We want to remain what we are and we can be an example for the rest of Europe.”

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