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Note: this article contains references to family violence and suicide.

They’re the ambulance-chasers of the activist world. In the wake of tragedy the men’s rights activists (MRAs) come wailing in, seeking to benefit. And they’ll happily throw the truth under the bus to get what they want.

After (yet more) horrific stories about violence against women and children, the MRAs pulled on their macho pants and went to work.

Over the long weekend, The Advertiser alone ran a terrible litany of stories:

There were reports that “Whispering Wall” murderer Henry David Shepherdson previously threatened to kill his daughter before doing so. (He was also accused of imprisoning her mother.) In Queensland, a man is alleged to have set his former partner on fire — Kelly Wilkinson died in front of her children, the third alleged victim of partner violence in just a couple of months in the state.

Dating apps will start to put “red flags” on potential sexual attackers. Elsewhere, a killer rapist allegedly breached his parole for the fifth time.

More details emerged about sexual harassment in the legal profession; a man was arrested for allegedly trying to coerce girls into his car; counsellors were pleading for more money to help men change their violent and abusive behaviour; and more than 6000 South Australian men were added to a domestic violence watch-list.

Other media outlets are similarly saturated with tales highlighting violence against women and children, even as the events in Canberra continue to unfold.

And it’s all red rags to the MRA bull.

Advocacy group the Men’s Rights Agency concocted a predictable melange of bullshit under the headline “Fake rape crisis fails to penetrate”. It and groups like it tend to whip up hysteria about “fake rape allegations” (which studies have found to be extremely rare) and blend it with furious male victimhood.

A trawl through other MRA sites shows all the other usual disinformation about fake allegations of domestic violence, and embittered fathers being denied access to children. The reason the courts may have blocked their access is rarely — if ever — mentioned.

But the most heinous rot spread through this network is the claim that 21 fathers commit suicide each week because of the family courts. The Australian Brotherhood of Fathers (ABF), the mob spearheading that piece of poppycock, blame false allegations, the burden of paying child support, and fathers’ lack of access to kids for the deaths.

You’d ignore them, except that it has been picked up in federal Parliament and promulgated by MRA enabler Pauline Hanson.

And it’s tosh. There’s a great fact check at The Conversation which shows that, while family breakdown can be a factor in male suicide, the “21 fathers” figure is without foundation.

It’s based on anecdotes without evidence. And it muddies the waters of the very real problem of male suicide. These guys are using male suicide as a gimmick in their battle against Australia’s family law system — to make it harder for women to prove rape and assault and easier for men to access their kids.

And we’ve just seen, with tragic consequences, that it is already too easy for abusive men to access their former partners and children.

For Anzac Day, the ABF even posted “lest we forget” followed by “#21fathers”, a horrid distraction from the very current discussion about veteran suicide.

The men’s rights movement has a long history of twisting the truth in its fight against imagined “feminazi overlords”. Using men and male suicide as a weapon is a particularly heinous sort of horseshit.

For anyone seeking help, Lifeline is on 13 11 14, Beyond Blue is 1300 22 4636, and MensLine Australia is on 1300 78 99 78.

If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault or violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit