News Latin America The dangerous advance of the false parental alienation syndrome in Latin America

The dangerous advance of the false parental alienation syndrome in Latin America

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It has no scientific validity. It is not recognized by the world’s health or psychiatric authorities and has been generating debate among lawyers and psychiatrists for years, but it is becoming a thrown weapon against women in Latin America. It is known as parental alienation syndrome and, despite being a questioned figure, it is making its way in the region’s legislation to favor those who commit gender violence.

It is used by men to delegitimize the complaints of women for violence against them and towards their daughters and sons; It is validated by some judges who deny custody to the mother and grant it to the father accused of family violence and now they want to include it in the regulations. This is the warning issued by the OAS Committee of Experts of the Follow-up Mechanism of the Belem do Para Convention (MESECVI) and the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women.

And it is just one of the examples that have occurred in the region. Since 2014, they have been drawing attention to how, without being approved by any legislation, judges use it to decide cases of shared custody. “We are not opposed to joint custody, it is about the fact that this figure of the supposed syndrome is being used in cases where there is an exercise of violence against women, they have denounced it and, in response to this exercise of violence, then the The man argues parental alienation on the part of the mothers and the request for custody”, explains Marcela Huaita Alegre, lawyer and president of MESECVI. She even warns that it is used by judges in cases of sexual assault on minors, such as that of the Brazilian woman. “What we ask is that it be analyzed on a case-by-case basis.”

The term was introduced in the 1980s by American psychiatrist Richard Gardner, who argued that there was a syndrome that could lead children with conflicting custody issues to falsely accuse a parent of abuse. Gardner, whose theory caused scientific rejection from the start, maintained that children with the syndrome had been vindictively lectured by one parent and obsessively denigrated the other for no reason. The psychiatrist, who committed suicide in 2003, recommended that the courts in which he testified remove the child from the home of the allegedly alienating parent and leave him in the custody of the accused of the abuse.

Over time, this theory has had even more detractors, but it had already been installed and quickly became popular in countries like Spain. It also did so in some of Latin America where conservative movements and groups of men for the custody of their children have promoted its use. And now, under other names, it is trying to sneak into congresses.

“It is a current that is reaching the region, in some countries in a stronger way. There’s a backlash (anti-feminist reaction) in terms of more conservative movements that argue that women are being victimized and in many of these cases, they also begin to claim some elements of equality with respect to parents and the right of parents to assume custody of their children. children and sometimes using these types of arguments such as SAP”, adds Huaita.

Another co-responsibility in parenting project is also being discussed in Uruguay, the benevolent name, although it is based on the supposed alienation syndrome and despite the fact that joint ownership already exists in that country. In Brazil, there was an attempt in 2010 when they enacted the Parental Alienation Law, although in 2022 the Brazilian Health Council requested its repeal. “Unfortunately, it was approved in Peru,” recalls Huaita. In that country, an article was expressly included in the Law that validates the SAP.

With its particularities, the figure travels the region. The OAS experts insist on its risks. “The use of this controversial figure against women, in cases where they allege gender-based violence or violence against their daughters and sons, is part of the continuation of gender violence and could generate responsibility to the States for institutional violence”, they warn.

He swimming pool from Vina del Mar: machismo dressed in tradition

Valeria Ortega, during the 2012 pool.Mario Davila (Mario Davila)

By Erika Rosete

It is difficult to criticize with the necessary severity something that a good part of a society considers a tradition. But, if those traditions mean continuing to reproduce stereotypes, violence, and the idea that women’s bodies serve as a public appropriation and common use for the show. Why not question it, deplore it or call it by its name: machismo.

The festival has tried to camouflage its most rancid tradition by presuming that Ureta’s bikini is made with recycled fishing nets, as if that subtracted one iota from the objectification that women are made year after year. It also does not go unnoticed that he rewarded Alejandro Fernandez with the highest awards, after the Mexican singer performed ‘Matalas’, a song that has caused discomfort and anger in a region where every year more than 4,000 women are victims of femicide. Do you know what makes so many women angry? That the public of the Quinta Vergara and thousands of spectators called “gallantry” what really was harassment. “Oh, what a seagull,” the singer commented to the woman who gave him the award, to later comment that she felt something was trembling “between her legs” and the excited audience applauded even louder.

The feeling that this type of image leaves many women with is very curious. Thinking that, as a society, we are not yet ready to have conversations that begin to throw away those “traditions” and “rituals” that have historically endangered our integrity; and that, at the same time, we remember that, for many centuries now, our bodies have continued to be material for the show. Something public that others can feel free to talk about, question and violate without there being any consequence.

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It is impossible not to be moved to tears by the story of Vanessa Guillen, the 20-year-old soldier who disappeared and was murdered at a United States Army base in 2020. Mayra and Lupe, her sisters, are the protagonists of the documentary, which accompanies their struggle so that there is justice and to achieve a reform within the military forces, stained by harassment and sexual assaults among soldiers.

The Guillen family’s tenacity in not letting the case go unnoticed sparked a movement in which thousands of service members who suffered sexual abuse in the Army shared their experiences on social media using the hashtag #IAmVanessaGuillen.

Mayra and Lupe claim their sister’s memory with every step they take. Christy Wegener, director and producer, accompanies them at her home in Texas, on their trips to Washington to meet congressmen, at demonstrations that drew hundreds of people in Vanessa’s honor. The two sisters became a symbol against silence in the face of what is happening in the United States Army. Thanks to them, many victims of Fort Hood, the military base with the most cases of sexual assault in that country, were encouraged to tell their stories and denounce them.

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About the word ‘soldier’

A few days ago, we published a story about a contingent of women who joined the Colombian Army after more than 20 years in which only men had entered. The word “welded” in the note generated an unexpected reaction from some readers. “What a fat (sic.) mistake that due to gender ideologies they try to call our female SOLDIERS soldiers,” claimed a reader on Twitter. In this regard, we share the column of Alex Grijelmo, responsible for the Book of style of EL PAIS, about the use of the word welded that, although it is not included in the Dictionary, it is possible and recommended. Here you can read it.



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