French dad in custody fight on 4-day crane protest
A French father demanding visiting rights with his son climbed down Monday from his protest perch atop a crane, but said it will be a long time before divorced dads are seen as credible single parents and get the same rights in France as mothers.
Serge Charnay halted his four-day protest on the crane in the western city of Nantes after Justice Minister Christiane Taubira met with SOS Papa, an activist group for divorced fathers.
"It's a start ... There's lots of work to do," he told TV cameras after reaching the ground. "These little ladies still think we can't change the diapers of a kid and take care of him ... This must stop."
Another father with a similar grievance briefly occupied a crane in the eastern city of Strasbourg over the weekend before police persuaded him to come down.
Charnay wants France to strengthen its law on shared custody. He was convicted of taking his son on an unauthorized vacation for two months in 2011 but says he did not regret that because "if I hadn't I wouldn't have seen him."
He said he does not expect to see his young son on his next birthday but insisted that his unusual protest was "absolutely not" aimed at improving his own lot.
"I went up for the cause of fathers," he said.
The head of SOS Papa, Fabrice Mejias, said the meeting with the justice minister did not appear to advance the fathers' cause.
However, Family Minister Dominique Bertinotti, who was also at the meeting, said later it's clear France needs to promote mediation between separating parents rather than systematically putting divorce cases before a judge.
She rejected Charnay's claim that fathers are seen as lacking in credibility.
"I don't think it's in a pseudo-war of the sexes that things will progress," she said on BFM TV.