The Social Services

The terror continues. This time from the Social Services who have decided I am not doing enough to meet my maintenance obligations. They have now written that if I cannot find work that meets my qualifications, then I should work as a cleaning lady to provide maintenance.

Just a few weeks after my children were taken from me on the basis that I was too ‘mentally ill’ to care for them and they were ‘in danger’ with me, the Social Services, acting on the orders of the father, applied for child maintenance from me.

My children were taken on 25th July 2011. Words cannot express the agonising suffering and distress I was going through at that time. Like some sort of bereavement except my children were still alive. I was barely functioning and it took all my effort just to get up in the morning.

To my shock and horror, on 18th August 2011, I was sent a letter demanding 1.116.00 Euros per month in maintenance for the children!

‘Ms. Beth Schlesinger is capable of earning 4,000 Euros per month after tax,’ they wrote.

Considering the average wage in Vienna after tax is about 1.200 Euros per month and I had never earned above that since living in Vienna, it was an insane, outrageous demand.

Especially for part-time work! I had 2 afternoons per week with my children at the time.

Furthermore, I had been a full time mum for the previous 2 years. I had just had my children snatched from me in the most barbaric manner and yet I was expected to immediately find a job and go to work the next day as if nothing had happened!

To add insult to injury, they stated:

‘The mother does not have any medical defect which would hinder her in any way from full time employment.’

Suddenly, when it came to paying maintenance, they deemed me so clever and competent! To illustrate the absurdity of this whole situation, I quote from their report:

‘Ms. Schlesinger studied in Cambridge and achieved a Masters degree in Oriental Studies. This comprises languages, history, and culture….this degree opens many doors and leads to many high salary positions in the fields of archaeology, history, literature, philosophy, religion, translation, journalism, etc. According to the father, Ms. Schlesinger has already worked in Austria as a journalist at The Economist, as a translator at HIAS and taught philosophy in the Lauder Business School. She has also worked as an English teacher.’

The Social Services have now totally contradicted themselves. In the latest report, December 2012 they state:
Since Ms Schlesinger has until now in Austria only had very limited work experience, it can be assumed that she could only earn a basic salary…

In response to their first claim, in 2011, as much as I would love to say this was a very worthwhile degree, I don’t think anybody could realistically make the claim that a degree in Oriental Studies on its own ‘opens doors to many high paying jobs!’Especially not in a foreign country in another language! My lawyer replied to the original claim saying how unrealistic and outrageous it was.

I then received a second letter from the Social Services on 1.12.2011 with a reduced demand for maintenance – this time ‘only’ 330 Euros per month (165 euros per child) based on an earning potential of 1.100 Euros. I appealed against this and was summoned to court (a different court to the divorce/ custody proceedings) in April to describe my employment status. I was on unemployment benefits at the time and presented a whole portfolio of rejection letters to illustrate just how difficult it had been for me to find work since the birth of my twins. The judge commissioned an expert to assess my earning potential which would be used to calculate the amount of maintenance I would have to pay.
On Friday I received this expert report – a 17 page document.

Mag. Kummer concluded that:

‘It was unrealistic to have expected Ms Beth Schlesinger to find full time work from 1.8.2011 that would pay a salary above the existence minimum required to live…she could not be expected to pay maintenance at this time.’

Thankfully this expert proved sane and objective. However, in his report, he included the opinion of the Social Services who thought otherwise:

‘The number of applications/ rejection letters (presented by Ms. Schlesinger) do not, in our opinion demonstrate the necessary level of engagement (to find employment) …..As a mother with financial obligations to her children, she must invest as much time in finding work as someone in full time employment. During a period of extended unemployment, she is required to work in menial jobs below her qualifications. She has not shown any evidence of applications for this line of work – e.g. cleaning, stacking shelves, etc.’

The expert responded to this claim that an employer would probably not accept me as a cleaning lady because I am over qualified and nobody would take my application seriously.

The Social Services seem to be doing everything in their power to further humiliate and degrade me -recommending limited access to my children (‘routine is more important than time with their mother’), recommending against me picking my children up from kindergarten for visits, ignoring my repeated concerns about the terrible state of the children, etc.

Meanwhile, I do not know of any other doctors who require their wives to work as cleaning ladies or shelf stackers in supermarkets to support them.

Reaction UK Doctors to Custody Decision

letter1letter2

RE : Custody Case  Beth Schlesinger (mother) and twin sons Benjamin and Samuel Schlesinger

To Whom It May Concern,

I am UK-trained Medical Professional (currently working in Australia) and am writing to you to clarify the use of paracetamol suppositories in children in the UK and the implications this has in the above custody case.

I was shocked and surprised to read that the inability of Mrs Schlesinger and her parents to administer paracetamol suppositories to her young twins for post circumcision analgesia was interpreted by the Judge as evidence that Mrs Schlesinger was unable to perform basic parenting skills.

There are clearly differences in the use of suppositories between Austria and the UK.  In the UK the majority of parents in the UK would be reluctant to use suppositories as culturally they are considered distasteful and they may harm the child physically.

In the UK paracetamol suppositories are available to buy but are rarely used by parents. They are mainly used in hospitals when children are unable to tolerate oral medication and in this environment will be administered by trained staff.

Parents will be occasionally be advised by medical professionals to use suppositories at home, for example if the child cannot tolerate oral paracetamol due to vomiting. In this situation parents will be instructed by a pharmacist or doctor how to use them.

The majority of parents in the UK will never have the need to use paracetamol suppositories and they are not considered a core parenting skill.

Universal practice in the UK for post circumcision analgesia is paracetamol syrup.

We would like to refer you to the product literature for paracetamol suppositories available in the UK as published by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) www.mhra.gov.uk.

The guidance is clear that they are to be used for children who find it difficult to take paracetamol tablets or syrup. The guidance also clearly states that “if your child’s doctor or pharmacist has told you how to use this medicine do exactly as they have told you, otherwise follow the instructions. If you do not understand the instructions or are not sure ask a doctor or pharmacist.

It is my medical opinion that a parent raised in the UK would most probably be unfamiliar with the use of paracetamol suppositories and that Beth Schlesinger behaved sensibly and safely by seeking help from someone familiar with their use.

I hope this statement clarifies this issue.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any further questions.

Yours faithfully,

 

Update – Visits Sunday 9.12 and Tuesday 11.12

A very difficult week. Heartbroken and distressed at seeing the boys in such a shocking state. Sammy and Benji are displaying extremely worrying signs of disturbance which would ring alarm bells for any psychologist/ doctor that saw them. All the professionals to whom I have described their recent behaviour, have been shocked and concerned.

However, as I do not have custody, I am not entitled to ‘interfere’ in any way in their medical welfare. All I can do is continue sending applications to the court for the children to be urgently assessed. My lawyer has written repeatedly to the judge, since January 2012! that the children are extremely disturbed and in a very worrying state. They are not developing, are not talking, their teeth were going worse and worse, until Sammy’s 4 front teeth were eventually removed in April. Even as something as drastic as an operation to remove a 2 year old’s teeth has not prompted the judge to take any action! The father never produced any dental records or explanations to account for this serious operation.

The Social Services have not made any house visits for months. When they received danger reports, instead of immediately going to see the children unannounced, they instead telephoned the father to inform him that they had been alerted that the boys were in a critical state. He assured them ‘everything was fine,’ which they accepted without any investigation of their own. They took no further action and even closed the case!

When I cried to the judge that I am given no information about my children’s welfare, I have no idea who their doctor is and the father has even banned me from the kindergarten, she responded, ‘Well actually, Frau Schlesinger, you are not entitled to any of that information because you do not have custody.’ In other words, I have no rights.

Despite my very restricted role in my children’s lives, I try my best to do as much as I possibly can with them in the very short time I have, to at least give them a few hours of happiness and enjoyment with their mother. It is tragic that even these attempts are thwarted. On Sunday we had a lovely time at the Chanuka party until my time with the boys ran out. As the party started at 3pm, we were only able to spend one hour there. Despite requests to extend the visit so that the boys could enjoy a little more of the party, or even to arrange the handover there, permission was not granted. Instead, we had to return to the visiting centre which is 45 minutes away on public transport. The boys were upset and confused at having to leave while all the other children could stay at the party. Another parent, seeing our distress, very kindly gave us a lift so the boys could stay a few more minutes.

I saw them on Tuesday and now have to wait until next Tuesday – a whole week – to see my boys again, all the while worrying and anxious at the state they were in the last visits.

First Night Chanukah

Sammy (left) Benji (right)

This is the second Chanukah without my dear boys. Sammy and Benji were just 18 months old our last Chanukah together. They were going through hard times then – teething! On the picture, Benji’s cheek is red and sore and Sammy has his finger in his mouth. How I wish now that teething would have been the worst problem they would ever have to face. We had no idea then of the much worse pain and suffering that was to come.

This year, though, as I light the candles, I do so optimistically.

The Festival of Lights reminds us of miracles and the power of perseverance. G-d’s miracles are not restricted to ancient times. Miracles happen every day, the hand of G-d is everywhere if we choose to see it. Jewish history has taught us never to give up. Even in the darkest of times, there is always light and there is always hope.

“Even if you are in the midst of great suffering, do not give up hope” (Pirkei Avot 1:7 Rashi)

Sammy and Benji, may G-d hear our prayers for you and may the light of this Chanukah be a harbinger of brighter times to come. Love you always & forever xxx

Hyperemesis gravidarum – Kate Middleton

Good news that Kate Middleton has been discharged from hospital after suffering from acute morning sickness. She could very likely be expecting twins. I can relate to all the terrible symptoms described and empathise with poor Kate as I know exactly how awful and debilitating it feels.

At the beginning stages of my pregnancy, before I knew I was expecting twins, I was also vomiting violently, up to 10 times a day. I couldn’t keep anything down, I couldn’t even look at food or smell food. I was permanently nauseous. I could barely drink, I couldn’t stand the taste of tap water and anything else felt too acidic. I couldn’t even enter the kitchen or pass a restaurant. Routine tasks became a nightmare; the very thought of doing the laundry (smell of washing powder) or emptying the rubbish made my stomach churn. The slightest smell made me throw up and I couldn’t even put a toothbrush in my mouth without retching. I was up 3-4 times in the night throwing up and then most of the morning, about 5-6 times. I lost more and more fluid, was losing weight drastically, suffered agonising migraines and eventually, it got so bad, I could barely move.

Hyperemesis gravidarum, I later learned, is most common in: young mothers, first time pregnancies and multiple pregnancies, all of which applied to me.

It’s lovely to see how caring and compassionate Prince William has been to Kate, constantly by his wife’s bedside. When I was crying and begging for help after 3-4 weeks of this acute morning sickness, I was told, ‘Thousands of women go through pregnancy without any fuss! Why do you have to be different? What gives you the right to complain?’
As I was vomiting, I was ridiculed for ‘being disgusting.’

Eventually, I was admitted into hospital by my gynaecologist who was horrified that I had suffered silently for so long and like Kate, was put on a drip for about a week, given infusions and anti-sickness tablets. I was severely dehydrated.

The pregnancy, thank G-d, was much better after that and I gave birth at 35 weeks, 4 days by caesarean section to 2 beautiful healthy babies, each over 2 kilos.

If Kate does have twins, breast-feeding is a real struggle! I was determined to breastfeed my babies for as long as I possibly could. I refused to listen to everyone’s advice to just give up and switch to bottles. I spent hours and hours painfully pumping my milk, lining up bottles, meticulously measuring and timetabling feeds like a dairy farm! All because I wanted to ensure my babies got the very best start in life.

It brings me to tears to think back on that time now; all the love, excitement, anticipation that has ended so tragically. The incredible miracle of bearing life reduced to an inanimate object: a legal piece of paper on a desk, dictated by a total stranger, an outsider for whom emotions play no role.

It is my body that bears the physical scars today. I endured the morning sickness, the labour pains. Only a mother can know what a kicking foetus feels like. It was my stomach that ballooned as the babies grew, my nutrients and my milk that sustained and nourished my baby boys. After all a mother goes through to bring life into the world, how can anyone possibly claim that that life is separable from its life-giver?

Whether Kate is expecting twins or a single child, I only hope she is given the love and support that every new mother and newborn deserves.

Jewish Chronicle 7.12.2012

geoffrey alderman

We can’t ignore this sorry affair

By Geoffrey Alderman, December 11, 2012

At first glance, the story of the divorce of Beth Alexander and Michael Schlesinger is all too familiar. Two young people meet. They get married. Children come along — in this case, twin boys. Then things start to go wrong (or perhaps they started to go wrong much earlier). The couple split up.

Who was to blame for this particular marriage breakdown? Although I can claim no professional expertise as a relationship counsellor, my wife and I have recently celebrated our 39th wedding anniversary, so I do know something about making a marriage work successfully. I generally hold to the view that it takes two make a marriage and two to break a marriage.

In the case of Schlesinger and Alexander, we seem to be in the familiar “she said — he said” situation. At all events, a get (religious divorce) has now been finalised, and an extremely protracted civil divorce is at least in train.

So far, so reasonable. Except for the fact that a court in Vienna — where Alexander and Schlesinger live — has granted temporary custody of the twins to the husband and father, leaving the wife and mother access-time to her sons averaging, by my reckoning, 10 hours a week. The seeming injustice of this has now attracted international media attention, and, as the JC has reported, was last month the occasion for a public demonstration in north-west London.

The arrangement sanctioned by the Austrian courts is unusual — to grant custody (albeit temporary) to the father and not the mother — but not unknown. Family courts in the UK do occasionally award custody to the father, especially where they feel that the mother is of unsound mind or leads a reprehensible lifestyle.

The Viennese courts must — one might suppose — have had a very sound reason for doing what they did. And it’s true that the Austrian authorities did conclude that they had good reason for recommending temporary custody of the twins to Schlesinger and not to Alexander, reportedly basing themselves in part upon a written opinion as to Alexander’s mental state.

Some have suggested to me that, for the sake of the twins, we should all shut up and leave matters to the Austrian courts. I’m not so sure. The drama that has been unfolding in Vienna has attracted media attention partly because it is perceived as typical of a particular approach taken by the country’s legal system in similar cases (one of which featured recently on Austrian television).

As to the Alexander-Schlesinger case, there are a number of allegations flying around.

We must also bear in mind that Michael Schlesinger is entitled to tell his side of the story. But there is one matter that I can put to rest. If I personally suspected that Beth Alexander might be in any sense mentally deficient, I assure you that I would not trouble myself — let alone you — any further with this sorry tale.

My difficulty is that I harbour no such thought — and neither does anyone I have spoken to, including, I might add, several individuals who would be distressed if I were to describe them as being in the Alexander “camp”. What’s more, we now have the written opinions of two well-qualified psychiatric professionals that she is in fact of very sound mind, and has never had a history of mental illness.

Something seems to me to have gone seriously wrong. At first, I thought the fault lay exclusively with the Austrian legal system. Now I am not so sure. The authorities that originally dealt with the custody issue might have taken greater care in the weighing of evidence. But I come to this affair without the necessarily narrow vision of the lawyer. Beth Alexander obtained her get only through the statesmanlike intervention of our own Dayan Chanoch Ehrentreu. And I am now convinced that a supreme duty lies with a small circle of philanthropists, whose generous support of Jewish communal institutions in Austria has been pivotal to the rebuilding of Jewish life there.

For the sake of everyone — but more especially the Schlesinger twins — I urge these benefactors to involve themselves in this case, so that the custody of the twins may be fully restored to the mother who bore them.

 

KURIER ARTICLE (equivalent to The Times) Monday 3rd December 2012

TRANSLATION

TRANSLATION KURIER ARTICLE
Monday 3rd December 2012

Children taken after Psychologist report

New Case: Beth Schlesinger’s sons may not live with her. The grounds for which: a psychologist report

On 25 July 2011, Rebecca “Beth” Schlesinger had her three year-old twin boys, Samuel and Benjamin taken from her. The reason: A psychological report that was commissioned by the court to assess her child raising capabilities. This report concluded that the 28-year-old English citizen was “impaired in her attention span and thinking,” demonstrated “lack of cognitive flexibility,” as well as “an increased level of distrustful information processing;” serious psychological abnormalities. Schlesinger’s child raising competence was therefore deemed reduced. On that basis, the father was awarded custody.

Second opinion

After seeking the private opinion of another psychiatrist, Gabriele Wörgötter, who concluded that Beth Schlesinger was perfectly sound of mind, the court commissioned a new report. In the third report, the Cambridge graduate was not diagnosed with any form of mental illness. On the contrary: “(…) I conclude that neither at the time of the examination nor at any time in the past has Ms. Rebecca Schlesinger suffered from any form of mental illness.”
Three reports now lie before the judge. Two are positive for Beth Schlesinger. The judge has not yet reacted to the new report – no hearing dates have been scheduled. Beth Schlesinger only sees her sons about once a week at the moment.

“It is all so absurd. The children are not doing well with their father. They hardly speak, they are disturbed,” explains the 28 year old. In total, her husband has cancelled 38 visits. She will not give up. “I want my boys back. This is hell on earth.”

INTERVIEW. MONIKA PINTERITS

“It’s like looking into a crystal ball,” says “Monika Pinterits, Children’s and Youth Advocate, who criticizes the practices of court psychologists in child custody proceedings

Often, individual psychologists’ opinions determine in the courts which parent will be awarded custody of children. It repeatedly happens that different psychologists arrive at totally conflicting conclusions. Often, psychologists diagnose mental illness or deficiencies which are totally refuted by a second opinion.
Monika Pinterits speaks about ‘many such cases.’ KURIER reported the case of Alexandra L, who was falsely diagnosed as depressive and delusional. A private report concluded that she was perfectly healthy. Nevertheless, the father was awarded full custody. Now there is a further case. (Beth Schlesinger).

KURIER: You criticize the practice of psychologists in child custody proceedings. Why?

Monika Pinterits: My comments are based on the current situation of these reports. We need a debate about whether these psychologist reports on their own should really be used by judges as the basis of their custody decisions.

In what way?

I think that the psychologist reports are relied upon too heavily. The judges think they are on the safe side (by following the recommendations of the reports). What I am currently experiencing are cases in which people are suddenly diagnosed with personality disorders.

Can you describe a specific case?

For example, I witnessed a case in which there were three different opinions. The first report claimed: the mother had a personality disorder – the child must be given to the father. Then there followed a further psychiatric assessment. The expert concluded: no personality disorder. The third report said: Both parents were competent in child raising and should be awarded joint custody.

How does this come about?

There are no uniform standards by which a person’s child-raising competence can be examined. For example, it often happens that someone is first examined by a psychologist, then has another report commissioned by a psychiatrist who totally undermines the first report.

Was it different before?

Previously, the reports were not attributed as much significance as they are today. They were considered as just one part of the total evidence. Now I have the impression that judges only take the psychologist report into consideration when making their decisions, above all other evidence. Lawyers prepare their clients beforehand exactly how to behave during the assessment. Many practice the tests in advance. The problem is, that the more eloquent person is judged more favourably. Many psychologists diagnose personality disorders which cannot be medically confirmed. That cannot be.

There is also talk of a “market”, as more and more psychologists are trying to jump on the bandwagon?

I personally, see it differently. I know psychologists who refuse to do undertake any more assessments because it is very expensive if you do it properly. There are also reports commissioned on only one parent and not the other. This is wrong.

Is it true that the parent with more money is in a better position? Not every parent can afford to commission a second, private opinion because they cannot afford the high cost.

Yes, I would say so. Therefore, discussions are underway to set up centres where the validity of these reports can be assessed. I hope that child custody proceedings will be taken away from the hands of the courts. The current procedure does not alleviate the problems; on the contrary, the courts just escalate the conflicts.

What do you suggest specifically?

I would like the psychologists, as well as the judges and other professionals to get together to discuss how and under whose technical expertise, custody decisions can be made. Psychologists must be very careful, because the life of a person rests on their decision. Judges must also learn to ask the right questions. When they ask, “will there still be contact a year from now (to the other parent)?’ the answer really lies in a crystal ball and prediction theories. That has nothing to do with professionalism.

Extracts from the Custody Decision Part 1

One of the reasons the Judge cited as grounds to remove the children from my care, was that I was unable to give my children, on the day of their circumcision, a suppository. The fact that both babies’ nappies were covered in blood, they were bandaged and screaming in agony which any mother would find extremely distressing, was irrelevant.

QUOTE (German extract below)

“Since the parents are practising Jews, the twins had a circumcision. The babies had to be strong enough and first approved by a children’s doctor before the procedure could take place. The mother’s parents were with the young family at this time. After the circumcision, the twins were in a lot of pain. They were given suppositories after the procedure to relieve the pain. On the same evening, the father went to a Bar-Mitzvah party. He participated in the celebration because he knew that the twins were in good hands with their mother and grandparents and deemed the presence of a fourth adult unnecessary.
As the painkillers wore off, the twins woke up and were screaming in pain. The mother and her parents couldn’t give the twins a suppository as they were unfamiliar to them. The mother called the father and asked him for help since he is a doctor and has medical competence. The father explained to her on the phone how to do it. Since the mother could still not manage, the father came home and gave the twins the suppositories himself.
In England suppositories against fever and pain are used. Whether, as the mother claimed, she had never used suppositories before, cannot be proven. The father was furious that the mother had called him and was angry on the telephone. It was totally incomprehensible to him why the mother and her parents were unable to use suppositories….

…….the mother explained the story about the suppositories to show how heartless the father behaved. The father told the story to justify why he was angry and said that it was incomprehensible to him why 3 adults couldn’t manage something as simple as inserting a suppository.

After looking on the website www.medicines.org.uk/EMC under paracetamol, I found that suppositories are used in England to relieve pain. This has not been clarified by British children’s doctors, but that is of no great consequence to the discussion.

The father was right to believe that using a suppository, especially after explaining how to do it on the phone, is not difficult. With boys, there is only one opening. The worst that can happen is that the baby pushes the suppository out again when it doesn’t pass the sphincter, in which case you just have to start again and push it in deeper.

The fact that the mother was unable to cope with this situation and made a big deal of it, demonstrates that she was unable to cope with daily situations (of child care).”

The Meaning of Motherhood

Dedicated to the wonderful mothers I met today

As support grows with the increasing awareness of Samuel & Benjamin’s plight, it’s heart-warming and encouraging to no longer feel so alone. However, at the same time, it’s been depressing to find out that neither am I and my children alone enduring such a nightmare.

Since the Austrian news story was published on Monday, other mothers have contacted me to share their frighteningly similar custody cases. They too had their young children taken from them in the most barbaric of circumstances at the hands of the Austrian judicial system. Their stories also involve highly irregular court processes, fabricated psychologist reports, professional misconduct by the Social Services and worst of all, the trauma and continued suffering of their vulnerable children.

We met as a group and spoke for hours. We cried together, compared evidence and tried our best to comfort one another. What touched me and impressed me the most was the total lack of negative emotions among the group. Every mother had the right to express anger, resentment, bitterness, recriminations against the individuals and organisations that have so devastatingly betrayed us and our innocent children. However, far from venting anger or hatred, we were united through compassion, warmth, tenderness and most of all, a steadfast devotion to our children that motivates each of us to get through another day.

I was amazed at the power and strength of these inspiring women. The terminology of our joint experience, “custody battle” is itself so paradoxical. ‘Battle’ is such a harsh, aggressive word. Together, we demonstrated that motherhood is anything but. Similarly, courtrooms; the coldest, most sterile places in the world are where decisions on the most emotive of all subjects are discussed: children’s lives.

As each mother shared her own struggles and daily challenges, we drew strength from one another and empowered one another. While I do not understand why any of us – educated, capable women – have been tested in this way, this experience has taught me many valuable lifelong lessons that I may never otherwise have discovered in my previously sheltered existence.

One day I will share these lessons with my dear Samuel and Benjamin. Most of all, this difficult journey and the people it has connected me with, has confirmed for me one of the most profound lessons of all – the overwhelming love of a mother for her child. It is a blazing fire that can never be extinguished.

Jewish Telegraph, 30.11.2012

JewishTelegraph20121130 (1)Heartache of a tug-of-love Mum

TWINS’ PSYCHOLOGICAL TRAUMA AND MONTHS OF SUFFERING

A DISTRAUGHT Manchester grandmother is crying out for support for her daughter who is fighting a contentious custody battle for her three-year-old twin sons in Vienna.

Sylvia Alexander, of Crumpsall, told the Jewish Telegraph that her Cambridge graduate daughter Beth Alexander met her Viennese husband Dr Michael Schlesinger at a Chabad weekend in Paris six years ago.

They were married soon afterwards and Beth gave up a post-graduate journalism course in New York’s Columbia University to settle in Vienna. But the marriage went badly wrong, particularly after the birth of the twins — Daniel and Benjamin — two-and-a-half years into the marriage.

Claiming that Beth was mentally ill, Dr Schlesinger attempted to take the twins from her. But a psychiatric report found that Beth had never suffered from any mental illness. Nevertheless, after lengthy court battles, last year Austrian judge Susanne Göttlicher granted Dr Schlesinger full and immediate custody of the children. He afforded Beth extremely limited access to her children, whom Dr Schlesinger claimed were “retarded” — despite social service reports to the contrary.

After the custody decision, Beth claims that the twins are still in nappies, are not speaking and are “extremely disturbed and confused”. A YouTube video shows graphic shots of the twins before and after the latest custody decision. Beth is accusing the Austrian courts of causing the children “untold psychological trauma and months of suffering”. She says that although the social services received six danger reports, they have closed the case.

Beth did obtain a get from Dr Schlesinger through the efforts of Dayan Chanoch Ehrentreu, of the London Beth Din, but she does not yet have a civil divorce.

In desperation at the custody situation, the family have launched an online petition which has thousands of signatories. Demonstrators with placards stating ‘Austrian Justice Stinks” recently stood outside Wembley Synagogue during a performance by Viennese chief cantor Shmuel Barzilai. The demonstration was organised by Beth’s brothers Graeme and Adrian Alexander, who live in London.

Sylvia Alexander told the Jewish Telegraph: “We have support from all over the world. “Rabbi James Kennard, who was Beth’s head teacher when she was in Yavneh and is now principal of Melbourne’s Mount Scopus College, started a campaign in Australia. “Support from all over the world has kept us going in our darkest times. “It makes us feel that despite the apparent hostility of Austrian Jewry to our situation, we are not alone. “I just want my daughter to have her children back.”

Please sign this PETITION and urge others to sign.