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Fleeing Domestic Abuse Across Borders

The 1980 Hague Convention, which has been implemented by over 100 countries including the UK, enables the speedy return to the state of habitual residence of children under 16 who have been taken to another contracting state.

Contrary to the situation envisaged by the drafters of the Convention, around 75% of the parents who are brought before the courts are mothers with primary care of their children, many of whom are fleeing domestic abuse.

There are very limited options for mothers to oppose orders for the return of their children and in most cases the courts decide that the child must return. Mothers fleeing domestic abuse across borders are left in the invidious position of having to choose whether to return with their children or send their children back on their own.

Most mothers return, and face continued or worse abuse, destitution, homelessness, isolation or even criminal proceedings. Dr Adrienne Barnett, Reader in Law at Brunel University London, and Dr Sonja Ayeb-Karlsson, Lecturer in Policy, Intersectionality and Violence at UCL, are members of the UK Steering Group of Hague Mothers, a FiliA legacy project, that aims to end the injustices that arise from implementation of the Hague Convention.

At this session Dr Barnett and Dr Ayeb-Karlsson explain the implications of the Hague Convention for mothers who want to escape domestic abuse across borders, and explore options for change.

They’ll be joined by Kim Fawcett, a Hague mother herself, a Teaching Fellow at Durham University and Co-Director of the Durham Gender and Law Research Centre.

Register your place here


This event is part of the Brunel Research Festival, which returns this May for a packed programme of online and in-person activities, celebrating cutting-edge and challenge-led research at Brunel and beyond.

Showcasing the world-class research carried out by colleagues from across the University, the Festival is a month-long celebration of the diverse local and global benefits of our research.

Free and open to all.

Explore the programme: