WAR WITH FRANCE

Nary a peep of support or concern from Clementine Ford for victimised Muslim women in Australia and around the globe but a wealthy actress involved in mutual biffo with her billionaire husband 17,000 kilometres away in Paris merits Australia’s intervention:

No matter how far we seem to have come in Australia in regard to understanding the impact of family violence, certain circumstances bring to light regressive attitudes that show just how much further we still have to go.

This week it’s the case of Australian actor Melissa George, who left her French partner late last year after he viciously attacked her in the family home they shared in Paris, that’s seen it bubble to the surface.

Australian-born but a naturalised American.

In an emotional interview with Channel Seven’s Sunday Night, George detailed the circumstances of the assault which saw her husband striking her in the face and then pushing her into a wall. After escaping her home, George used an Uber to go straight to the police station. She was bruised and bloodied when she arrived; photographs taken eight days later show a large yellow tinge around her eye where the bruise is only just beginning to fade.

Ford conveniently fails to mention that a French judge was not convinced the husband was the aggressor:

The first court battle – over the alleged assault – ended last month when a judge convicted both parties of assault, ordering Mr Blanc, 48, to pay his former partner 1,000 euros in damages and ordering her to pay him one euro in damages and imposing a 5,000 euro suspended fine.

The judge said it was impossible to determine who sparked the fight but that it was clear that, even if Ms George’s injuries – bruising, swelling and redness – were more serious than the scratches Mr Blanc suffered, both had acted violently.

Back to Ford:

But the fallout is much greater than the physical injuries she sustained that night. George has been effectively barred from leaving the country with her children because of a custody arrangement that not only sees her children spend every second week with their father, but also prevents either parent from taking the children outside France without the written permission of the other parent.

Nothing unusual there:

In September, George was arrested after border police intercepted a private plane carrying the actress, her two sons and the family dog bound for America. George has denied allegations she was planning to leave the country with her children indefinitely, but she has been charged with kidnapping nonetheless. This is in addition to the frankly absurd conviction she received for “her part” in Blanc’s attack, which consisted of her scratching him in self defence.

Trying to spirit children overseas without a spouse’s knowledge is kidnapping.

The photographic evidence of injuries provided by George [eight days after the fact, Ed] (not to mention the testimony of her Uber driver, who describes the actress as having bled sufficiently enough to smear on his door handle) should be enough to show people that Blanc’s attack was serious. And yet, a good deal of support has been withheld by the public after George’s interview aired.

Pools of blood on the seats and floor from the vicious attach? Nope, a “smear” on the door handle.

The actress has been accused of performing for the cameras, apparently fabricating her distress. Previous incidents in which George behaved sanctimoniously and pretentiously about Australia’s place in the cultural lexicon have been held against her. “Oh, she needs Australia now, does she? Well, we’ll show her!”

She’s a U.S. citizen so she could always contact the American embassy.

The backlash on social media has been voracious and thoroughly disheartening.

This should be abundantly clear by now, but let’s repeat it just so we all have a refresher: Nobody deserves to be subjected to violence. Women do not ask to be victimised by men. Those who escape violence are not obliged to prove to the public that they are worthy of defending.

Voracious? Ford must have written this coming up to feeding time. Regardless, males frequently suffer undeserved violence from women.

And Melissa George, no matter how silly she might have made herself look in the past while indulging her own cultural cringe, does not deserve to be blamed for an attack that left her bruised and bloodied, seemingly in fear for her life and now unable to escape a country in which she has limited legal assistance and certainly no judicial system imposing custodial limitations on the man who beat her while she was recovering from giving birth.

George can certainly afford the services of a lawyer.

But as distressing as it is to see victim blaming attitudes continue to emerge, the more pressing point here is the fact George is trapped by proxy in France.

She cannot leave the country because she cannot take her children. And because she cannot leave her children (nor should she have to), she is stuck without as much earning capacity and therefore without as much independence – two of the things survivors fleeing domestic violence absolutely need, even if they seem outwardly wealthy and privileged. Yes, rich women can be abused too.

Kidnapping having failed, George can always leave the country solo for work but doesn’t need to because she’s rich.

What can be done? Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like much. George wants the Australian government to intervene on her behalf but international custody law is notoriously difficult for foreign parents to win against, let alone when the people they’re battling are well connected billionaires who also happen to be citizens of the jurisdictions being fought in. What’s more, if George takes time away from France to work, her absence from her children will likely be used against her in future custody proceedings.

George chose to marry a foreigner and move overseas, so there you go.

It’s disturbing that so many people are quick to dismiss these key facts. This is not a manipulative woman weeping crocodile tears and lying about abuse in order to steal her children from their father. Nor is her prior arrogance about her home country relevant to the matter at hand, which is that she has been victimised by family violence and is being further traumatised by state sanctioned custody abuse.

Countless men suffer family violence and state sanctioned custody abuse every day.

Melissa George is like any other woman and mother escaping a violent marriage. She wants to live safely with her children in an environment in which she can care for them emotionally and financially.

I don’t know what her home government can do about her situation. But I can’t for the life of me figure out why her fellow citizens would be so dismissive of her plight, just because she once had the audacity to throw a tantrum on a morning TV show.

Australians are dismissive of George’s “plight” because it’s not only unimportant, it’s none of our concern.

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