Story By: Georgina Jadikovska, Sub-Editor: William McGee, Agency: Newsflash
A British mum who has been fighting in the Austrian courts to see her twin sons has received major support after a global campaign was launched in January.
Family lawyer Beth Alexander, 37, has been involved in an ongoing fight with the Austrian courts to gain proper visitation rights to her twin sons Samuel and Benjamin, aged 12, after the failure of her short marriage.
However, after a decade-long battle, the 37-year-old Cambridge graduate has received major support from over 5,000 members of a global campaign backed by Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, Hendon MP Matthew Offord and Jewish Women’s Aid.
Alexander told Newsflash: “The way this campaign has taken off has been staggering. People are outraged and appalled at the injustice that a supposed legal system can rob two innocent children of their mother over 10 long years and now deny us contact altogether without any valid grounds.”
Her ex-husband Dr Michael Schlesinger, 42, has so far successfully argued in court that Alexander is mentally ill and incapable of taking proper care of the boys, thereby repeatedly denying her the right to see them.
Both Samuel and Benjamin, who are approaching their bar mitzvah in June, currently live with their father in the Austrian capital Vienna while their mother left the city in 2016 and returned to the UK after her overnight contact was withdrawn and replaced with three hours a week in a contact centre.
Nevertheless, despite her subsequent efforts to see her children, she was later denied any form of contact.
According to local media, Schlesinger even stopped the children from speaking English with their mother after the judges approved a short two-hour-long supervised session last summer.
Alexander said that she tried to talk to them. However, the boys replied in German and told her that “English is forbidden”.
The woman explained that the meeting was censored, which made the children very uncomfortable and added: “It was really a form of abuse: whatever I said, the [supervisor] was listening and would say ‘oh, you’re not allowed to say that’.”
According to her, the twins were bullied into telling the judge they did not want any contact with her by their father, who “never really wanted them, and just uses them as a means to perpetuate the abuse”.
She added: “He coerced them to say they don’t want to see me again and our last visit was horrible, but this is coming directly from him, not the boys.
“I knew that even if I did fly back occasionally he would make arranging contact impossible. There have been sporadic videocalls, but he mostly rejects them. I have to call 10 times before he will ‘allow’ a call to go through and they usually end abruptly. No fixed phone calls were granted so the father had full power and control over me.
“Being an alienated parent is like being an amputee. The day your child is taken is the day a part of you dies. You limp on but you can never be the same. It is a daily agony and re-traumatisation that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.”
Schlesinger, who works as a junior doctor, won custody of the children after claiming Alexander is a paranoid schizophrenic, despite her deliberate statements that she has “never taken medication in her life”.
Additionally, the court commissioned a psychologist and a colleague of her husband’s who claimed she was “not raising her children in line with her academic background”.
However, despite the terrible experiences, Alexander sends an optimistic message to her children by saying: “Mama loves you so, so much, I’ll never stop fighting for you. I’m waiting to bring you home.”
The Facebook group named ‘Reuniting Beth with Her Sons’, which was created by the British Jewish community and aims to support her in her battle, has attracted over 5,600 members so far.
Hundreds of them have already sent requests to the president of the Vienna Jewish community Oskar Deutsch to demand that he takes action.
The ViralTab page is created by and dedicated to professional, independent freelance journalists. It is a place for us to showcase our work. When our news is sold to our media partners, we will include the link here.