By Jamie Wallis
Discrimination against men has been a much less talked-about issue, partly because of the male ego itself. A father who missed his child terribly was barred by the court two years ago on grounds of “unhealthy neediness to see his son”. He fought and won the battle, but this did have a telling effect on the perfectly ‘healthy’ relation that he had shared with the boy. The ruling against him had been passed by a male judge. Men are still supposed to be Spartan in their emotions, and when it comes to children, strange but true, it is a man who denies the importance of the paternal emotions time and again. Divorced fathers have committed suicides to protest against court rulings that barred them from adequate contact with their child, and yet, there is a prejudice against men who share a strong tie of affection with their children, and are not ashamed of showing their emotion about it.
Post-divorce problems of a father under the present legal and social system usually revolve around the following issues:
- The greatest question is that of custody. When it comes to very young children, it is obvious that the physical presence of the mother is mandatory. But the indescribable bond that a father shares with his infant cannot be denied either. Many men still drive home as fast as they can from work just to take a peek at the baby who has come to mean so much for them. This bond should be given the respect it deserves.
- The next two issues are related with the first. The collection of maintenance from fathers has always been a problem. The Child Support Agency of Britain had declared sometime ago that it would not follow up on a total claim of £1 billion owed by divorced fathers of this nation to single mothers. Father’s rights groups have retaliated by questioning the figures, and the fight of statistics raged right through 2006. That was the year when the CSA had claimed that 70% of the parents who are supposed to pay maintenance had not done so. Later it ‘corrected’ the figure to 30%. It was also observed that while 31% of the women did not pay, the number was 30% for men, and much was made of this 1% margin. But the fact remains that the number of women had been 6,000 and 124,000 for men. So the sheer volume of absentee fathers is staggering.
- The third factor concerns visitation. The rules of allowing, denying or regulating visitation are still very muddy, and this complaint of unfairness has come in from parents of both genders.
- The next factor is nebulous and huge. There is still a lot of social discrimination against fathers who genuinely care for their children. It may sound terribly harsh, but the most effective way to remedy this is recognising that the majority of fathers in Britain are still irresponsible about visitation or maintenance or both, and bringing them to book. The righteous can gain justice if the wrong are reprimanded.
Problems of Fathers with Custody
In the hullabaloo over custody and maintenance, the tiny section of single dads hardly find a space to voice themselves. Over 90% of single parents in the UK are women. The remaining 10% – i.e. single dads – are plagued with a number of problems which are largely overlooked.
- There is a lack of quality but affordable childcare facilities. How is a man supposed to look after his child and work full time simultaneously if the child is young?
- There is a lack of awareness about various issues concerning education and healthcare among these fathers.
- State financial help is fragmentary and irregular.
- Social sympathy is also less.
Fathers 4 Justice
The short (2002 – 2006) and colourful history of this father’s rights group had a profound effect on the history of family laws in this country. It was disbanded when they were suspected of planning to kidnap the prime minister’s son. Not a very unexpected stunt, given that they scaled the Buckingham Palace, dressed up as Santa Claus for a huge rally and was in the news always. But the gravity and depth of the problems faced by fathers who are denied rights would find a proper champion in men themselves, only if they first learn to honour and acknowledge the duties of fatherhood.
Source: Article Base