Magazine / Gender Matters
Monday, 06 Feb 2017 20:13 EAT
The internet has castigated Deputy President William Ruto for absconding his parental duties to one Abby, 11, after her mother Prisca’s quest for child support from the DP went viral. The report on Mr Ruto opened a can of worms on deadbeat fathers. Among the online stonethrowers were men who have a kid or two with women they aren't married to and have absconded the parental duties. The deadbeats look at specs in other people’s eyes but can’t see the logs in their own.
Since it doesn't seem like single parenting will be going away any time soon, it's important that these issues get addressed. Single-parenthood is one of the gravest issues our society is yet to resolve and one whose unwitting victim is the youth. Most children born out of wedlock are burdened to the mother while the father runs away without shame.
The reason we have so many problems in our society is because we have too many men making too many babies that they don't want to take care of. The number of children living in poverty in this country is astonishing, and a big proportions of these children are from single parent families led mostly by mothers.
Women have to rearrange everything in their life so that they can be there for their children. They pay school fees, buy clothes, toys, food, to name the few while fathers live lives of luxury as their children live in poverty. Why aren't the fathers of these children paying for their children so that they wouldn't live in poverty?
Every child needs to have their rights safeguarded. Having a child comes with responsibilities that neither the mother nor the father should run away from. Parental protection in all realms is essential for child survival. It is time the government and all stakeholders involved or affiliated with organizations that deal with childcare and abuse, have a table to find solution for this trend that is biting our social fabric.
For the longest time the society has condemned the mother. It is always assumed the mom made a mistake getting pregnant or not being able to keep a marriage together. It is further assumed that a father doesn't have to be involved in child rearing and if he does he is a king of responsibilities. The society looks at single parents especially single mothers as if they have committed some crime; not acknowledging that these mothers didn't have these children by themselves.
We live in a society that chastises women. When a female is pregnant and gets an abortion, she is looked down upon or considered wicked. If she keeps the child, she is considered stupid or promiscuous. But when people see single dads, they instantly feel some degree of sympathy. They assume that something happened to the mother, perhaps she died during childbirth, or she was unfit, or whatever. Then, they see a poor single dad who got "stuck" with a baby and is now struggling to raise the child.
It is time we change the narrative as a society. Natural law advocates for both parents to support their kids. There is no natural right to spread your seed with no prospect of raising the resulting children except by foisting the responsibility onto others. It’s stupid that the mothers who take this matter to the highest offices or child care agencies are seen as bitters. Most single mothers counterintuitively end up donning silent gowns to avoid being lambasted or termed bitter women.
The case of Prisca has evidently shown that women should take care of their kids alone and if the father is able but doesn't support the kid, the women are asked to hush their differences since going public is attention seeking. Many women fear to go public due to condemnation by members of the online society who are always ready to dissect a situation.
The system behind child support in Kenya is a joke and the policy needs to be renewed. Simply, absent fathers who refuse to pay for their children are committing a criminal offense and should be punished accordingly. Men who are unable to afford their child support payments and continue to impregnate women should be offered a choice of vasectomy or unsafe person’s colony. This may seem a harsh violation of the individual’s rights—but it is nowhere near as harsh as growing up without a father. Absconders who are unable to afford their child support payments should be banned from having more children.
The child is always the loser when two adults are fighting over their responsibilities. The child loses out financially, emotionally and physically. Accordingly to statistics, children from lone parents families are more likely to fail at school, get involved in criminal activities, involved in gangs and have lower job prospects, and who does society blame this on? The mother of course.
They forget the mother had to juggle work and home life and other issues involved in raising a child, this is the mother who had no choice but to go to work earning minimum wage whilst her child goes to school and pays most of what she earned on childcare and bills and left with nothing to pay for any other leisure activities.
As a society we need to realize that ignoring irresponsible behavior which begets violent criminals and harms children is not being right - it is lawlessness. I honestly think that refusing to pay towards the upbringing of children should be a criminal offense. Those who are unable to afford their child support payments should be made to pay what they can afford. We need to enact laws for those who refuse to pay child support. I think they should be incarcerated.
Esther is a writer by day and reader by night, giving her a broad base from which to approach many topics. She is an international relations and diplomacy student at University of Nairobi, a human rights enthusiast and avid traveler.