Vulnerable, alone, and stranded thousands of miles from home without support. That’s the situation that Northern Irish woman Sharon* and her child are in due to an abusive ex-partner and the Hague Convention, an international law designed to prevent the abduction of children.

Sharon’s situation is now so desperate that her family back in Derry/Londonderry have made an appeal to the public for help.

Sharon – not her real name, as neither she nor her child can be identified for legal reasons – was ordered by a Northern Irish court to return to another country last year under the Hague Convention. The country, where the father of the child resides, is far from any of Sharon’s family or support networks.

Sharon is not entitled to free legal aid and faces a bill of around £15,000 to have her case heard in court.  Her family say that they have no choice but to appeal to the public for help to raise money to get her home.

Sharon’s family, who are very concerned for her well-being and that of their child, have launched a fundraising campaign via JustGiving.

“She is so far from home and so afraid – our hearts are breaking but we have to stay strong and help her to fight this case and get her home, safe, with us,” a family spokesperson said.

Marie Brown from Foyle Women’s Aid, who are supporting the family’s appeal, said:

“Young women caught in this situation are very vulnerable. She is far away from home, alone, scared and without the resources she needs to fight her case, get justice and come back home.”

Foyle Women’s Aid has been supporting many women in this situation in recent years. We have been campaigning for a long time against The Hague Convention being used in this way, which prevents women and children returning to the safety of their families and communities, “she said.

There are many ways that you can donate to this appeal:

To donate online go to https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/supportforsharonappeal

A special bank account has been set up Sort Code: 950676 Account Number: 30006513

Or you can donate by texting FWAS90 £(followed by the amount up to a maximum of £10) to 70070.

Donations can be made directly to Foyle Women’s Aid at 24 Pump Street, Derry. Tel: 02871416800.

All funds raised in this appeal will be used solely to pay the legal bill.

*Names have been changed to protect the identity of victims

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