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France

Fathers gather in Paris to demand 'Parental Equality'

Reuters

Dozens of men gathered in the French capital this morning to push for “Parental equality”, in an effort to draw more awareness to the plight of fathers caught in separation or divorce cases.

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Banners from today’s gathering read: “Fathers together for parental equality”, “Never without Dad”, “Justice. One mother = One father”, and “50% father + 50% mother = 100% happy child”. A few brought along photos of their children with a sign saying “Father deprived of his children”.

Today’s gathering was organised by ‘La Grue jaune’, or the ‘The yellow crane’ in English, which was created earlier this year after a divorced father in February, along with other groups, occupied a construction crane in Nantes to express his right to visit his son.

One of the father’s attending, Olivier Ventre, who is also a member of the association SOS Papas, held a banner that read “Ghislain Julien, I love you, Dad”.

“I hope my children see this message”, said Ventre, who explained that his two teenage sons live with their mother and have refused to see him in over a year following a “complicated divorce”. “If we had been given joint custody, I wouldn’t be here”, added Ventre.

“We hope the law changes in a way that forces judges to impose alternating residences if both parents demand custody of the child”, said Gérard Olliver, a spokesperson for the group La Grue jaune.

According to statistics from the Ministry of Justice, seven out ten cases of divorce, custody of the children is given to mothers. However, in recent years, many cases have decided on alternating residences following an official recognition of this law in 2002.

But it’s still not a common occurrence. Sébastien Ledoux from the association ‘Osons les pères’ or ‘Fathers dare’ in English, blames the frustrating situation on the consistent conservatism of judges, and not necessarily on the fact that many judges in family court are women. “The role of fathers has to be noticed. They play a bigger role now” than in previous generations, added Ledoux.

Participants from today’s protest are expected to wrap up in front of the Minster of Justice, to drop-off their proposals to change existing laws.

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