News & Current Affairs, Gender & Sexuality - Thursday, December 3, 2009 10:21
Barbados Family Minister says men deserve more legal rights to their childrenBy Antillean, News Desk
Men should be allowed more legal rights to their children, says Minister of Family, Youth and Sports Esther Byer-Suckoo.
She was speaking yesterday at the launch of sociologist Lloyd Springer’s new book, Fatherhood In The Neighbourhood, at Warrens Office Complex, Warrens, St Michael.
The author interviewed and surveyed 50 boyfriends and husbands, who were non-residential, working-class men, about fatherhood.
His book revealed that men believed that the legislation on parental rights was against them and biased towards women.
The book also revealed that the majority of men wanted DNA testing as a policy to determine fatherhood.
“Too often fathers have their rights rescinded; access seems as a privilege restored when the father has met certain criteria, often established and monitored by the mother. This is wrong,” Byer-Suckoo said.
“Unless the father is likely to harm the child, he must be allowed to see his children, regardless of how he gets along with the mother or when last he has paid child support,” she stressed.
She said that as a result, the role of the father was part of the on-going legislative review process.
“Children are not to be used as pawns. Whatever the adult relationship is, children need their fathers, and not just to provide that financial support. The role of fathers is often seen as being the financial provider, and while we must continue to encourage men to financially support their children and provide for their physical needs, their roles must be redefined to be more than the family purse,” she said.
The minister, who is also a medical doctor, said mothers should also read the book because of the relevant parenting issues raised.
“[Fathers] need to be seen as nurturers also and this needs to start from the ante-natal clinics as they don’t encourage men to be a part of that activity . . . and inside the labour ward.
“When we send those messages to fathers during the ante-natal and birthing process, we are essentially telling them that they don’t need to be a part of this nurturing. So we have to change the message,” she emphasised (Barbados Nation).
Please see our related article “Are Barbados’ child support and paternity laws skewed against men?” for background on the debate over male parental rights in Barbados.
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