The Italian Almanac

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father's armada

The Father's Armada

An association representing separated fathers staged a protest near the Spanish Steps to draw attention to the plight of fathers who are denied visitation rights with their children. The demonstration coincided with the 12th anniversary of the suicide of Antonio Sonatore, who took his life outside the Aosta court house after he was denied the right to see his daughter.

It is estimated that some 2,000 separated fathers commit suicide in Europe every year because they are not permitted to see their children. The protest included a number of black coffins to symbolise these deaths.''We want to remember those who have killed themselves and those who will commit suicide,'' said Giorgio Ceccarelli, the founder and chairman of the Fathers' Armada association, which is part of a Europe-wide association of like-minded groups which campaign for the rights of separated fathers.

In the past the Fathers' Armada has staged colourful demos in support of its aims, including a Batman parade around the Colosseum, marching through central Rome sporting orange wigs and large false breasts, wearing chastity belts at Rome airport and stripping down to boxer shorts to show how child support payments can leave them penniless. The Fathers' Armada won an important battle in January 2006 when parliament passed a law which strengthened the access and custody rights of divorced fathers and made joint custody of children the norm when parents split up.