I have been worrying about the growing numbers of fathers murdering their children for a while now, and yet nobody seems to want to talk about it. So I am grateful to the Guardian for this article (which you can access via clicking on the title of this entry) which covers this topic very thoroughly.
In fact it says all the things I have been thinking.
Like the fact that we seem to find excuses for these men, that it was not really their fault, that the wife had brought it on herself by daring to want to leave or see another man. I dont see it like that, they are self-indulgent, rage-filled "I'll show you" acts and as a woman I cant quite get my head round that, because we dont work that way.
I know there was an outpouring of sympathy for the man who threw his children off a hotel balcony when he was shown to be suffering so much afterwards, but I didnt much feel it myself, although they said in the papers that he had done it because he could not bear to live without them if his wife left him, I instinctively knew straight away that he did it to punish her.
Public shame and humiliation and the knowledge that as he had not died himself but would now have to live with his wife's hatred were what made him feel so dreadful - he had hoped to escape all that part leaving her bereft and powerless.
Like the fact that women who kill their children are usually suffering from post-natal depression or some other kind of mental illness, the men are usually sane, which makes it much worse. (Only 1 in 20 of parents who kill their children are women)
Like the fact that men who kill their children regard them as their possessions rather than human beings in their own right and it is this "ownership" which they believe gives them the power over life and death.
The Guardian article was printed on November 5th, it has happened another twice since then. The very next day in Bodelwyddan two children were murdered by their father, yesterday a man was arrested for murdering his wife, her brother and their two children in Newcastle.
I have also noticed that a large proportion of the murderers are ethnic minority fathers who have come to live here from other countries. I wonder if that is significant? Do families in other countries, in the developing worlds, have a different outlook about family members being posessions owned by the man, than we tend to do in the west? I think that must be the case.
There are white British men murdering their children too, so we shouldnt perhaps make too much of that. But this article says that generally the murderers hate their wife, not their children which again chimes with my thinking.
I think that if we are going to stop this dreadful thing happening, to reduce the incidence of fathers murdering their children (whether or not they also commit suicide) then we need to begin campaigning for more recognition for children. Children are not adjuncts of their parents, not possessions, not pawns, not tools to be manipulated to hurt someone else. They are people in their own right, small people of course, but still people.
We have to campaign so that fathers the world over understand what mothers dont usually have to be taught, that children are precious and while they are young and vulnerable they need us to look after them so that they can blossom into adulthood and start to look after themselves.
I feel the same about smacking children, it is the worst thing, to physically hit someone just because they are small. You wouldn't hit an adult, you know that is wrong, but you think it is okay to hit a tiny defenseless child, because "it is the only way". Lots of people get through parenthood without hitting their children, perhaps we should all watch supernanny a bit more often!
What kind of a world are we living in? And why is nobody talking about this? It is so depressing, when I heard about the family in Cyprus who were gassed by Carbon Monoxide my first thought was the father had killed the children, I never thought of the gas - and those of you who know me would be amazed to hear that. Since Michael's death in 1999 I assume all deaths have been caused by CO until told otherwise, but in recent months I have started assuming it was the father, how very sad and depressing.