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News and views from The Backbone Collective which advocates for women and children who have experienced violence or abuse and who are enduring further harm from New Zealand's Family Court. 

Sisters Speak Up On Behalf Of Kiwi Kids In Family Court

Sisters Speak Up On Behalf Of Kiwi Kids In Family Court

Kiwi sisters Bella and Grace are speaking out because the New Zealand Family Court is not listening to the voices of children, saying the Family Court contravenes UN conventions on the rights of children. The sisters are asking New Zealanders to support their protest campaign.

Bella and Grace were inspired by the documentaries ‘A force more powerful’ by Canadian Film maker Loren Crawford, and 'Taken by the State' which aired recently on Newsroom, showing the forced uplift of a small child under orders from the Family Court.

In their own videos below, Bella and Grace tell of their own struggle for justice and safety. They want to protest about the lack of rights they have as children involved in the Family Court.

 

Bella and her sister Grace (below) say the Family Court is not listening to them and is ignoring evidence. They say the Family Court is not upholding their rights as children. Watch Bella's video here.

Bella and her sister Grace (below) say the Family Court is not listening to them and is ignoring evidence. They say the Family Court is not upholding their rights as children. Watch Bella's video here.

 

The sisters are staging a sit in over the next four days, during which they will distribute photos of themselves playing board games, using hashtag #freeusnz. They are asking other children and adults to support their cause by posting photos of themselves playing boardgames with the same hashtag.

Bella says the Family Court process involving children does not comply with Article 7 of the UN Declaration of Human Rights which states that everyone - regardless of age - has the right to be protected by law. 

"A lawyer was appointed to us. We had no say in who would represent us. We have asked for - and been declined - information on how to make a complaint.

"We are unable to sack her [Court-appointed lawyer] even though she has clearly been incompetent.

"We are not allowed to read her reports, although many of them are clearly wrong.

"We are unable to attend Court, at which we are being discussed and represented.

"We are not allowed to read the Court rulings and we have no appeal process.

"Does this sound like justice to you? Help us in our fight for justice."

 

Grace and her sister Bella have made videos saying they refuse to comply with the Family Court, saying it ignores their rights as children and goes against the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which is a international treaty that New Zealand has signed. Watch Grace's video here.

Grace and her sister Bella have made videos saying they refuse to comply with the Family Court, saying it ignores their rights as children and goes against the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which is a international treaty that New Zealand has signed. Watch Grace's video here.

Older sister Grace says that the Family Court is discriminating against them and not giving them full legal rights because of their age, which goes against the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child is a human rights treaty which sets out various rights of children, of which New Zealand is a signatory and bound by legislation.

The Backbone Collective fully supports Grace and Bella’s calls for justice for New Zealand children and for giving them a voice, and
so has agreed to distribute on the girls' behalf all photos sent in to Backbone in support of the protest.

Backbone Cofounder Ruth Herbert says:

"We want to support Grace and Bella as best we can, as we advocate for all women and children to have their voices heard, and their experiences and views respected and responded to appropriately by the Family Court.”

Bella and Grace are asking other Kiwi kids and adults to support them by playing board games in support and posting photos on Facebook and/or Instagram using the hashtag #freeusnz.

If you would rather send a message of support or a quote, please email them to info@backbone.org.nz and we will post them anonymously on your behalf on Backbone's Facebook page.

Negative messages suggesting that the adults in Grace and Bella’s lives have engineered this protest or should be silencing the girls from taking this stand will be ignored. Grace and Bella have started this action completely of their own accord. Their words and their actions are their own - not
those of the adults in their lives – this is their protest.

NB: Backbone recommends that photos do not identify children. A good way to take a photo is to stand above a board game being played on the floor and to take the photo of the tops of kids' heads and their hands etc. 

 

 

Watch 'Taken By The State' aired on Newsroom 8 Aug 2017

Watch 'A Force More Powerful', by Canadian Film Maker Loren Crawford, 18 Nov 2014

Read more about Bella and Grace's story

Read more about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Read more about the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child

Join The Backbone Collective