For a long time, Kenyan men have had the option of accepting or denying responsibility of children they sired, and the law backed them up. While the men were enjoying this luxury, the women were expected to deal with instant motherhood.
“He tricked me, he lied to me, he told me he would be there and, he told me that he would take care of the kids.” These are some of the cries you will hear from women who find themselves pregnant with no one to turn to.
But now the Nairobi High Court has ruled that the father’s name should be listed on their children’s birth certificates without their consent. With this new rule the law expects that with every biological father named on the birth certificates, the level of abortions, single mothers and street children will decrease by a large percentage.
While this rule tends to compel men to take up responsibilities for their children, it also aims at ending stigma as well as discrimination against children, especially those born out of wedlock.
Speaking during the ruling, Justice Mumbi Ngugi ordered the Registrar of Births and Deaths to ensure that the entry of names is done in the next 45 days.
“Every child is entitled to a name. Even though we live in patriarchal society, it is proper to keep birth records and avoid justifying discrimination in a child’s life,” she said.
This ruling means that, irresponsible fathers, popularly known as “deadbeat dads” in Kenya will no longer have an excuse to run away from children. Rich men who enter into casual relations and prey on women confident that the law allows them to hide children born in those secret relations are now out of luck.
As much as this ruling focuses on men who evade child support responsibilities, it also focuses on women who have denied men the chance to take up fatherly responsibilities to their children. It has now given these men the opportunity to use the court’s decision to make these women include their names in their children’s birth certificates.
According to Mr. John Chigiti, a lawyer to a woman who had filed a case, challenging the Births and Deaths Registration Act on the law that prohibited a mother from including the biological father’s name on a birth certificate of a child without the man’s consent, raised questions to children born out of wedlock, concerning their parents’ marital status have been brought to an end, since this has caused low self-esteem in many children.
Mr. Chigiti added that “a child has a right and if its identity is incomplete it generally suffers as it grows without dignity. This verdict not only protects such children but also calls for sexual responsibility.”
Thanks to this new rule, parents will get to know that parenting is more than child support. If you’re not doing your share of the heavy lifting, and the only thing you contribute to your child’s life is that monthly or biweekly cash support then you’re not parenting your child.