Walk into any Children’s service offices in Kenya and you will be met by somber faces of women who have come to report men that had abandoned their responsibilities towards their children.
Children’s court is usually full of drama as accusations and counter-accusations fly regarding who has to take responsibility for a child that has been sired out of wedlock as well. When you ask most women for the first step to take when you want to report about a neglected child, many women who have been down that road will tell you to drop those thoughts immediately as you will get nowhere with the case.
Diana Moraa said, “My baby daddy bribed everyone in the children’s offices and by the time I got there for my second visit no one wanted to hear me out. I was forced to just go back home and start taking care of my baby with my meager resources. It has been so difficult for us but we can’t both abandon him now, can we? ”
Diana is not alone and after her baby daddy declined to come for the hearings at the office of the mediator, Maureen Osore just decided to give up on the follow-up altogether. The worst thing about all of these is that both men are financially stable and can easily take care of their children.
Personally, I have never been able to wrap my head around the fact that some parents just refuse to take care of their children without a concrete reason. Some men go to the extent of quitting their jobs so that they cannot take care of their children. To such, I normally ask did you fall out with your kids or the mums?
Are you aware that some men just refuse to do it just to spite the women who left them because of reasons such as philandering or domestic violence? It is wrong and while the courts have been successful at making such men pay using the existing laws, others are still getting away with it!
Enter Thika Town MP Patrick Wainaina who is set to table his new Child support bill in the national assembly that mainly seek to tame irresponsible parents children born out of wedlock. As expected, such a bill struck the controversial nerve of the Kenyan society and already gender wars have erupted with each side keen to see the bill sail through or fail to sail through.
People have already come up with untruths about the bill seeking to tarnish it even before it gets to the floor of parliament. Here are some of these untruths being peddled on our streets,
- The bill only targets men only
The bill does not only target men and according to the MP, it seeks to compel any parent between the father and the mother to take care of the child. He said that the parent who fails to meet their obligation deposit 50 percent maintenance fee for the upkeep of the child.
- The father to pay mother 50% of salary every month
Word on the street is that the father of the child will be required to pay the mother 50% of his salary. That is the wrong interpretation because the bill said that they only get to do this when they FAIL to pay pr their upkeep of the baby. The bill actually requires each parent to contribute 50% for the upkeep of their child and you only pay the 50% of your salary when you fail to pay for your obligations as required.
Looking at the bigger picture, this bill will really change the lives of both parents and children. For instance, it will be possible to hire help with the extra money meaning that the kids are not left alone when the mum goes out to work as is the norm in some houses. Leaving children alone in the house has caused many accidents such as fires that burn the children to death. Wainaina says that he foresees fewer children being on the streets because their needs will be taken care of by responsible parents.
With more money on their hands, the parent living with the child will also be able to provide better housing, clothes, and food for their children as opposed to what they are having at the moment. It will also help to do away with stress as some parents take out their stress out on their children which makes them live very miserable lives.
The bill also calls for free DNA testing services to women seeking to prove paternity of their children. This will really help in cases where dads are genuinely in doubt as they will be able to conclusively prove that their child is theirs and be more willing to help out with expenses. The MP is also optimistic that both men and women will have to change their sexual behavior so as not to risk pregnancy which will effectively also help to curb fresh infections.
Dear members of the 12th parliament you have been handed a chance to change the course of many lives on a silver platter. Please pass this bill and help innocent children live better lives which may lead to a better future.