“I FEEL guilty and… ashamed. I’m one of those stories you hear about in the news.” Lisa Kennedy’s candid admission sums up the shock and humiliation of having been deceived absolutely by her partner of almost a decade.
Very few Australians know Kennedy’s name. The situation could have been quite different, however, had a story filmed by current affairs program 60 Minutes been broadcast as planned.
In 2010, during what was intended to be a brief visit to introduce baby Daniel to his grandparents and aunt in Istanbul, Kennedy’s Turkish-born husband announced without warning that he had initiated divorce proceedings against her and that their son would live with him. Daniel was seven months old at the time.
After eight years of marriage, Kennedy was completely alone in an unfamiliar country where she spoke only a few words of the local language and whose laws were at best confusing and at worst unashamedly biased against foreigners.
The Australian Government was unable to intervene in what was essentially a domestic matter as far as the Turkish legal system was concerned.
Without her own parents, siblings or friends around her, Kennedy was left to choose between two unpalatable options: concede that she would never regain her son and return quietly to her old life in Melbourne, or dig in stubbornly and weather the antagonism being directed towards her by her husband and his family to continue fighting an expensive and emotionally exhausting battle for Daniel’s custody. Kennedy chose the latter.
When their case was eventually referred to the Family Court in Australia, the report was placed on hold by 60 Minutes. Seventeen months later a film crew from the program was detained by the authorities and an Australian child-recovery operative was jailed for their role in an eerily similar situation involving two Australian-born children Lebanon.