The recent Nairobi High Court ruling by Justice Mumbi Ngugi has stirred quite a mix of emotions. Fathers must now be listed on their children’s birth certificates with or without their consent. This means that for a long time, Kenyan men had the option of accepting or denying the responsibility of the children they sired, and the law backed them up. While the men enjoyed this luxury, the women were expected to deal with instant motherhood.
Any woman who conceives from consensual sex (especially when in a solid relationship) expects excitement and support from her partner. However, this has not always been the case. When the man denies his responsibility, the rejection comes as an absolute shocker. While the mature and independent woman will pull herself together and focus on becoming a single mother, not many ladies would opt to go at it alone, thus they would terminate the pregnancy or give up the child for adoption.
But now, at least the law expects every biological father to be named. How will this help? Well, perhaps we shall see a decline in abortion rates and the number of single mothers, plus of course an increase in lawsuits for child support.
Well, for some women (the well-educated and financially stable) this may come as a sigh of relief while for others (your regular mama mboga, local hairdresser or cleaning lady), it means absolutely nothing. Parenthood means presence and selfless action, not simply having a name on a piece of paper.
While this landmark ruling could prove beneficial in the long run, and perhaps compel more deadbeat fathers to man up to their responsibilities, having a man’s name on a child’s birth certificate quite doesn’t create the father that the child and family unit requires.
Ideally, the family is headed by a man and held together by a woman. But for various reasons, this structure is crumbling, and I think women are partially to blame. Yes, women have some of the blame to bear for this predicament. Women have condoned and even encouraged this culture of letting men go scot-free for so long until they became entitled to it.
Take a look around and see for yourself. While young girls do backbreaking house chores, the boys are allowed to laze around and expect to get served at their every beck and call, when will they learn to be responsible if not during their formative years?
The modern ladies are paying more attention to making it big in the corporate world and less on the family front, some just look for sperm donors, and others just have sex to conceive and trap a guy they desire. Have women not given men the easy way out by giving them the goodies before they prove they are worth it and show utmost commitment?
Women with sons want to mother their adorable sons forever, the over-pampered young men raised by house help aren’t taught to respect other women. The mothers turn a blind eye to the fact that their sweet ‘kababas’ are impregnating girls in the estate. They shout down fellow women to keep those ‘harlot daughters’ away from their ‘innocent boys’. Do you see the double standards?
Women don’t hold men to their responsibility; they tell their daughters that it is ok for a man to stray, come home late with no reasonable explanation and so on.
Women have babied this vice of irresponsible behaviour from men and now it is biting back hard. However, there is hope, women, must realize that they wield the power to nurture responsible men or deadbeat fathers.
Dear young lady, reason with your mind and not your heart before lying with a man because at that point the complexity or simplicity of your child’s life is yours to decide. Mothers, teach your sons to be responsible men who honour women so that the cycle carries on and in the days to come, the men whose names are printed on those birth certificates will surely live up to their roles as great fathers without coercion.
Mwende Maritim is a budding freelance writer based in Nairobi, Kenya. She has always had a passion for well written content but began writing professionally in 2014. Her writing mainly covers lifestyle issues and anything to inspire people especially the teenagers she mentors.