(Family Division, Peter Jackson J, 22 February 2013)
The parents originated from Afghanistan and resided in the UK following their marriage. When the relationship broke down the father sought contact with the 2-year-old son which was opposed by the mother who made serious allegations of domestic violence against him and his family. She also alleged that the father took her and the child to Afghanistan where she was held against her will and subjected to violence by the father and his family. A fact-finding hearing took place in relation to the mother's allegations.
The mother's allegations of both sexual and physical violence were to be believed and were supported by medical evidence. The fact that the mother did not report the incidents contemporaneously was no reason for doubting them. The mother had been very dependent on the father and it was only with considerable support that she later received that she was able to discuss such personal matters.
It was clear that the treatment of the mother in Afghanistan was oppressive and that following a disturbance at the paternal family home the mother felt it necessary to seek refuge in a shelter for 2 ½ months. The mother's concerns were essentially genuine and were increased by the father's extensive lies during proceedings.
The serious events of the past would make it difficult for the child to enjoy important relationships with the father and wider family. If there was substantial acceptance of the court's findings then it might be possible to work towards some degree of reconciliation. The father in particular was urged to reflect on the position and accept responsibility for what had happened in order for progress to be made.
A residence order was made in favour of the mother in addition to protective orders. Matters were adjourned for submissions to be made on how contact proceedings should now progress.