A most worrying situation
Kaieteur News – May 17, 2007
Increasingly, there are single-parent households, signalling one of three things – that women are keen to raise children without the presence of a male partner; that men are shirking their responsibility to be fathers; or that women are so promiscuous that they are uncertain of the paternity of their children and are therefore left to conduct the unpleasant task of raising children single-handedly.
We are not inclined to believe that women are increasingly promiscuous because there is no evidence to support such a contention. Instead, we find that men are in growing numbers, seeking to prey on very young women, some below the age of consent. The implications of this behaviour are far-reaching and have been discussed ad infinitum .
We know that in many cases, the financial status of the family would determine the behaviour of most of these girls. They are often prey to their needs which cannot be supplied by their household hence the opportunity for them to be victims to the men.
We are also not convinced that women set out to raise children on their own because no woman ever considers a child growing without a father. They know that children tend to be more responsive to the dictates of a father. It may be his masculine voice, his physical imposition or the recognition that confrontation could be detrimental.
This leaves us with the grim reality that men are shirking their responsibility to the family and this has not gone unnoticed by the wider society. One non-governmental organisation, Men on the Move, came into existence to have men understand that they are critical to any family structure.
Religious organisations have also joined in the battle to have men accept their responsibility to the family and to become role models in the society. It is not by accident that the situation in schools is what it is. There are scarcely any men in the education system. Most of the heads of schools are women and some 90 per cent of the teachers are women.
Growing boys for the greater part tend to become taller than the women and the innate masculine tendencies cause them to test women. And for some reason the women teachers literally give way to these adolescent boys with the result that these same boys leave school, often among the least prepared to deal with life outside the walls of the school.
These boys later grow up to become fathers and it is they who now contribute to the growing problem of the single-parent household. They are the ones who seem not to care that they have a responsibility to ensure that their offspring lead a life that would see them develop into responsible citizens.
But in the absence of a positive effort to alter the trend of single parenthood we are recording some horror stories. Earlier this week, we heard the plaintive cry of a woman who lost two of her three children to drowning.
She accused the community of condemning her as a ‘bad and worthless’ mother for not affording her children proper supervision on the day they died. Her response was that no one knew when she remained in the house hungry, not complaining to anyone for fear that she would become the victim of abuse.
We are no stranger to actions by the more fortunate against the poorer members of the society and here we are not talking about the beggars. We have heard of cases of people lending a helping hand only to abuse the victim when something went wrong between the helper and the helped.
This woman is just one of a growing number of poor single-parent women. Some have tried the courts but found that the husband or father of the children often manage to elude the law for long periods. While the grass grows the horse starves. Such is the case that many women never even bother the courts.
How do we get the men to accept their responsibility? One can only suppose that the grown ups are already lost and the time is now to focus on the young people growing up. All is not lost and there may be some help in this area as we teach young people the ways of the world while we talk to them about sexual behaviour at this time when HIV/AIDS must be contained.