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The welfare assessment in radicalisation cases under the Children Act 1989: to what extent do race and gender influence judicial intervention in the family home?

Date:26 APR 2020
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Srishti Suresh, Coram Chambers

Using race and gender as a critical lens, this article addresses two queries: first, how consistently do family courts interpret the ‘paramountcy’ principle of child welfare in cases concerning female minors under suspicion of extremist activity? Second, to what extent is the construction of welfare affected by competing counter-terrorism considerations? 

The ‘paramountcy’ of child welfare is the cornerstone of judicial reasoning in family law. Yet as radicalisation cases fall into a new ‘stop-gap’ between national security and the family home, the interpretation of welfare may significantly change shape. Judges have discretion to holistically assess the impact of race, gender and culture on the wellbeing of a child. Accordingly, the nature of this article is critical and interdisciplinary, relying on sociological understandings of race and gender, as well as how these translate conceptually into the law. 

As this paper is an amended version of my masters dissertation, it has been published in three parts. The first constructs a methodological lens, assessing the use of race and gender as criteria for analysis. The second and third apply this lens to a critical discussion of extant case law; ultimately taking a broad view as to the effective assessment of intersectional identities by family courts.



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