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Mothers on Trial: The Battle for Children and Custody Paperback

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Chicago Review Press; Second Edition, Second edition edition (July 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1556529996
  • ISBN-13: 978-1556529993
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.2 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #349,368 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“Heavily documenting her book with legal precedent, expert input, and studies, Chesler makes her case with all of her zeal intact. Fresh, [and] timely content” —Library Journal in its STARRED review of the revised, 2nd edition of Mothers on Trial

“An unblinking look at gender bias in child-custody battles.”—Kirkus Reviews on the revised, 2nd edition of Mothers on Trial


“Sure to inspire anger, understanding and action.” —Gloria Steinem on the 1st edition of Mothers on Trial


“Extremely subversive. . . . It should and will enrage, entice, incite and liberate.” —Kate Millett on the 1st edition of Mothers on Trial

“A stunning and exhaustive indictment of the treatment of mothers by the modern justice system. Highly recommended.” —Library Journal on the 1st edition of Mothers on Trial

“No brief review can do justice to the scope or style of her current book, a rich fabric of woven of compelling data from her interviews with warring parents, evocations of myth and poetry, and the transcribed voices of mothers on trial.”
Psychology Today on the 1st edition of Mothers on Trial

“An essential work.” —Erica Jong on the 1st edition of Mothers on Trial

About the Author

The author of thirteen books and thousands of articles and speeches, feminist icon Phyllis Chesler is an emerita professor of psychology and women's studies at City University of New York, a psychotherapist, and an expert courtroom witness. She is cofounder of the Association for Women in Psychology and the National Women's Health Network, a charter member of the Women's Forum and the Veteran Feminists of America, a founder and board member of the International Committee for the Women of the Wall, and an affiliated professor with Haifa and Bar Ilan Universities. Her pioneering work, Women and Madness, is a long-standing classic. She lives in Manhattan.

More About the Author

Phyllis Chesler is an Emerita Professor of Psychology and Women's Studies at City University of New York. She is a best- selling author, a legendary feminist leader, a psychotherapist and an expert courtroom witness. Dr. Chesler has published thousands of articles and, most recently, studies, about honor-related violence including honor killings. She has published many classic works such as Women and Madness, Mothers on Trial. The Battle for Children and Custody, and Woman's Inhumanity to Woman. She is about to publish her fifteenth book in October, 2013, titled An American Bride in Kabul.

Dr. Chesler has lived in Kabul and Jerusalem and now lives in New York City. She has led campaigns and lectured in Europe, the Middle East, and the Far East.

Dr. Chesler is co-founder of the Association for Women in Psychology (1969), the National Women's Health Network (1974), and the International Committee for the Jerusalem based Women of the Wall (1989).

A revised and updated edition of Women and Madness was published in 2005; a new edition of Woman's Inhumanity to Woman with a new Introduction was published in 2009; and a Twenty Fifth anniversary edition of Mothers on Trial with eight new chapters was published in 2011. In 2009, 2010, and 2012, Dr. Chesler published three pioneering academic studies on honor killings and an academic article about the Burqa. All four studies appeared in Middle East Quarterly. Her work has been translated into many European languages and into Japanese, Chinese, Korean, and Hebrew.

Since 9/11, Dr. Chesler has focused on the rights of women, dissidents, and gays in the Islamic world; on anti-Semitism and the demonization of Israel; the psychology of terrorism; the nature of propaganda; and honor-related violence. She has testified for Muslim and ex-Muslim women who are seeking asylum or citizenship based on their credible belief that their families will honor kill them.
Over the years, Dr. Chesler has appeared in the mainstream, leftwing, and rightwing media. She has been on The Today Show and The O'Reilly Factor; on Donahue, Geraldo, and Oprah--and on the 700 Club; Israel National radio, and Al-Hurrah. Dr. Chesler has been on Nightline, Court TV, the History Channel, MSNBC, NPR, the MacNeil-Lehrer Report and CNN--and on FOX News.

Dr. Chesler has been published, interviewed, and reviewed in The Washington Post, The International Herald Tribune, The Times of London, The New York Times, The Weekly Standard, National Review, Il Foglio, Ha'aretz,, Salon, The Globe and Mail, The London Guardian, Israel National News, The Jewish Week, The Jewish Press, Psychology Today, Science Magazine, etc.
There are over 4 million references to Dr. Chesler's work online. She has been profiled in many encyclopedias, including Feminists Who Have Changed America, Jewish Women in America, and in the latest Encyclopedia Judaica. Approximately 100,000+ people visit her website each year and from more than 180 countries. Her articles are archived at her website where she may also be contacted.

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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"It's as if you knew my story personally."
William Garrison Jr.
Every parent going through a custody battle, every lawyer, and every judge should have to read this book.
Paula J. Caplan
Feminist icon Phyllis Chesler does it again!!

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 24 people found the following review helpful By "ksward2000" on March 27, 2000
Format: Paperback
Every mother should read this eyeopening book about the patriarchal legal system. Mothers do not get custody if fathers (even poor fathers) want to ask for it. Good mothers lose custody, bad fathers get custody (and child support) and the court system is biased toward men and their money. Mothers are slammed if they work for not being a full time mom, and equally so if they ARE full time moms for being lazy. I read this book ten years ago and rarely a week goes by that I don't think about it or tell someone about it.
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24 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Talia Carner on June 25, 2011
Format: Paperback
Not since slavery in the USA were mothers punished by having their children taken away from them. Yet, in family courts all across America, judges and quasi-judicial officers of the court do just that: children who are abused or molested by their fathers are removed from their primary-care good mothers and are placed in the hands of their molesting fathers.

How this scandal can go on for decades with hardly any change, without any public outcry, and without any protest from human rights' activists is due to the fact that outsiders to the gutter of our family courts' justice simply refuse to believe it.

In her revised and updated milestone fact-filled book, "Mothers on Trial," Phyllis Chesler fights to save thousands of children from becoming yet another generation of victims of a court system that betrays them time and again. She points out that while adult women often recount childhood sexual molestation at home by close relatives--and these women's stories are believed--people tend to disbelieve when actually facing such cases as they happen in real time, right in front of them.

It is a documented fact that when fathers fight for custody, 70% of the time they obtain full or partial custody. People often assume that the reason these men who, in most part, have not been fully involved in their children's lives--sometimes have been absent for months or even years--now gain custody is because the mothers are unfit. The naked truth is that in most of these cases, the father is emotionally and verbally abusive or outright violent. The mother, often the product of an abusive home, often abused for years in her marriage to the father of her children, now faces battle for which she is woefully unequipped to wage.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Maureen T. Hannah on October 24, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It's been twenty five years since the initial publication of Mothers on Trial (MOT), Dr. Phyllis Chesler's exposé of the gross injustices inflicted on battered women by family/divorce courts in the U.S. and across the world. MOT first came out in 1986, in an era when marriage and "family values" were worshipped while single mothers were vilified (remember Dan Quayle? Murphy Brown?). It was during this same period when the anti-feminist fathers rights (aka male supremacist) movement--an evil sibling of other male-worshipping organizations like the Promise Keepers and its ilk, all born out of the womb of the religious right-- was in its early formative stage.
A used copy of Mothers on Trial found its way into my hands right around the time I was awaiting the court's final decision in my own child custody battle. When I first filed petitions for legal protection and child custody in the Albany County (New York) family court, I thought the evidence in my case was rock solid, if not overwhelming. I naively assumed that the court's orders would be based upon the evidence and the law. What I encountered, instead, was the convoluted system described by Dr. Chesler in MOT. I found a system driven by cronyism and the profit motive. I was confronted with a legal climate that seemed utterly obsessed with the rights of fathers, no matter how monstrously those fathers behaved toward their partner and children. I encountered legal professionals who dismissed my allegations, ignored the evidence I'd gathered, and gave little credence to my record of parenting. I witnessed legal professionals making nonsensical recommendations that barely masked their disdain for women in general and battered women like me in particular.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Kerry V Mackenzie on June 16, 2011
Format: Paperback
Embroiled in a world and a system that I never knew existed, I felt lost and alone. More than lost and alone, I felt horrified. I was a full-time mother fighting for custody from my ex who called me 'crazy, a bad mother, delusional.' The worst of it was that in family court I was presumed guilty until proven innocent. From the lawyers to the legal guardian to the judge I was treated as if I was invisible. If my forensic psychiatrist had not been unbiased and thoughtful, I would have lost my children to a bitter and vengeful man, and it would have been likely I would have never seen them again.

It was so bizarre that I thought I was the only person in the world to experience this institutional contempt, or worse, that I was imagining it. That is, until I read this book.

If you are going through a custody battle your experiences need will be validated with this book. It is a dear friend during hard times.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Louis Santacroce on June 27, 2011
Format: Paperback
Every word of this book is true! I see these guys EVERY DAY! They are the bane of my job. Right now, I have a guy calling me daily about how the guy his ex is now living with is a registered sex offender (he's not, not even an unregistered one) and how they sleep in the same bed with his five year old daughter. Another calls to complain that his wife has him arrested for no reason whenever he tries to see his children, neglecting to inform me (as the police have no trouble doing) that he shows up to see his kids drunk and at 3 AM, and tries to run the mother over with his pick-up when she tells him to go away. They all want custody because their ex's are no good whores who suddenly became alcoholics, junkies and sleep-arounds without them to keep 'em in line. But when I go to interview the kids, 90% of the them are terrified of the FATHERS and beg not to be returned to them.
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