Saturday, June 16, 2007

Who's The Daddy?

The government is off on yet another morality crusade, this time they are annoucing that they are going to make registration of father's names on birth certificates compulsory. Now you would think that this move would be so that they can ensure that fathers are contributing financially to supporting their families, to reduce mother's dependence on benefits. Not a bad idea as such (although if you really cared about that sort of thing though you would be working on strengthening the powers of the CSA (Child Support Agency) to chase up money from absent fathers - currently only 15 percent of lone parents on Income Support receive any child support) but you have to think that women who say they don't know who the father of their child is must be saying that for one of two reasons:

1) There is some kind of problem. They were raped and don't want the rapist to have rights and access to the child. They were a victim of incest and don't want the child to have that on their permanent record. The father has threatened them with violence or abuse if they "grass him up". They fear that an ex-partner or members of the family may attack or even murder the father if he is named.

2) They genuinely don't know who the father is. They had a one night stand and didn't get in touch afterwards or left false contact details. Or they may have been having simultaneous relationships with several men and not know which caused the pregnancy.

In either case who are they going to prosecute under the new laws? A new mother, baby under one arm, sat there either terrified or just quite honestly unaware of who the father of her child is? That doesn't seem very resonable. And how can they prosecute the father? They don't know who he is!

The quotes from Kate Stanley at The Institute of Public Policy Research are frighteningly out of touch with the realities of the kind of people who might be affected by this legislation:

"Everyone should know who to send a card to on Father's Day." Presumably newsagents are going to start selling 'Happy Father's Day - thanks for nothing!' cards shortly?

"Most people will be thanking their fathers tomorrow but many will be wondering who their father is and why they have not helped support their family." Does anyone really believe that writing the name of the man who abused and raped you on a birth certificate is going to result in that man coming round every other weekend to take your child out to the park and dressing up as santa on Christmas eve? And does anybody actually want their rapist round their house hanging out with their kids anyway?


Benedict White said...

Cruella, firstly this is a think tank proposal, though from a government connected one, not a government proposal.

Secondly they will exclude rape and abuse cases, and indeed cases where violence may ensue.

The prime motivation aleged (I am not sure I believe it) to be to ensure contact between father and child, assuming that there is no good reason for that not to be the case.

Do you think that is a good thing?

Cruella said...

In principle I think that is a good thing.

I am however very suspicious as to how they will assess the likelihood that "violence may ensue". We've seen in the past when women have opposed the father of their chidren having access, the court has forced that access and the result has been murder.

I also don't actually think that passing this legislation would have any impact. I mean who are they going to prosecute if no-one signs the certificate.

If women don't want men to have contact with their children, usually there is a good reason for that - like violence or abuse.

If men don't want contact with their children then what is the point of children spending time with someone who doesn't want them? How will that help their development?

I take your point that it's still a think tank proposal at this stage but it's one of these smoke and mirrors things - look we're helping deal with kids from broken homes. What would really help kids from broken homes is proper benefits so they can have a decent standard of living...

Unknown said...

As an aside, there would be another case that should be considered. A single (and/or gay) woman who choses to have a child by anonymous donor.