Los Angeles, CA–Recently I wrote about UK Fathers 4 Justice’s Jolly Stanesby, a divorced father of one, who has carried out numerous daring, creative protests.
Stanesby is a registered child care provider and is thus allowed to care for any child in England except his own, who he is barred from calling and is allowed to see only four days a month.
Recently Stanesby was jailed for his role in a rooftop protest at the home of Deputy Prime Minister Harriett Harman. To learn more, click here.
Stanesby’s partner in “crime” was UK fatherhood activist Mark Harris, who went through a terrible ordeal during his divorce. Below we reprint a blog post I wrote about Harris earlier this year.
F4J Protester’s Daughter: ‘I’m Proud of My Dad’
“Her life has been blighted by years of enforced separation from the father she clearly adores.
“‘Most people look back on their childhood and remember family days out at the seaside and birthday parties,’ she says. ‘My recollections are of Mum, sour-faced in a suit, heading off for yet another court appearance and endless interviews with social workers and child psychologists, all telling me that I didn’t have to see my dad if I didn’t want to.'”
Has the case for family law reform ever been laid out better? From Justice 4 my father, says daughter of rooftop protester (Daily Mail, 6/9/08):
On Sunday morning, just hours before he scrambled on to the roof of Harriet Harman’s home dressed as a superhero, Mark Harris kissed and hugged his daughter Lisa and set off from the South Devon home they share.
‘I told him I was proud of him,’ says Lisa, a 21-year-old wages clerk. ‘I said that however long he managed to stay up there, I would be cheering him on and sending him my love.’
In the end, Mark, who staged his weekend protest with fellow Fathers 4 Justice campaigner Jolly Stanesby, stayed on the roof of Ms. Harman’s elegant period home in Herne Hill, South London, for ten hours – an hour for every year that his own case wasn’t resolved by the courts.
When he climbed down on Sunday night, he was immediately arrested and detained by police, leaving Mr. Stanesby perched precariously on the slates, stubbornly insisting he wouldn’t descend until Mark had been released.
But then as Lisa points out, brushes with the law are nothing new to her 49-year-old father. During the decade he spent fighting for full access to his three daughters after his wife walked out and took them with her, the driving instructor faced 133 court appearances before 33 different judges, two stints in jail and went on a hunger strike.
The irony is that Mark’s case is now resolved: Lisa, his eldest, now lives with him. So does his 17-year-old daughter. Another daughter, aged 15, lives nearby with her mother, but visits at least twice a week. He now has everything he fought for.
But he still donned Superman’s leotard, tights and cape because while he is free to talk about the horrors he suffered at the hands of the British justice system, other fathers are not…
‘He hasn’t forgotten what he went through,’ says Lisa. ‘He still has a lot of anger about it and he wants to do what he can to help other fathers in the same position.’
If it seems strange that Mark is still angry about his own ordeal, then as Lisa is quick to remind anyone who asks, until she was 16 – and legally able to choose for herself which parent she wanted to live with – she hardly knew her father at all.
Her life has been blighted by years of enforced separation from the father she clearly adores.
‘Most people look back on their childhood and remember family days out at the seaside and birthday parties,’ she says. ‘My recollections are of Mum, sour-faced in a suit, heading off for yet another court appearance and endless interviews with social workers and child psychologists, all telling me that I didn’t have to see my dad if I didn’t want to.’
Read the full Daily Mail article here. Mark and Lisa are pictured above.