MLA fights for child rights

| 02/03/2009

(CNS): A private members motion brought by opposition member Rolston Anglin seeking to amend the Affiliation Law should address a long standing injustice against many Caymanian children born to parents that were not married. Anglin’s motion put before the House on Thursday and passed on Friday proposes to remove the 12 month limitation that currently exists in the law for naming a child’s father, something that has proven to be discriminatory for many children and prevented many fathers taking responsibility for their biological children.

Gaining support from both sides of the House, Anglin noted how the law was originally composed through the eyes of men and how it had served to treat many children unfairly by firstly labelling them illegitimate and secondly denying them their right to a parent.

“There should not be a time limit on a mother to prove the father of her child,” he said, noting that most western democracies had addressed this issue and both the Council of Europe and the United Nations had declared that children born out of wedlock should not be discriminated against. “Children are deemed to be born equal in or out of marriage,” he added. “When a man fathers a child it is his biggest responsibility and no child asks to be conceived.”

Anglin said changing the law would ensure that fathers — as this law applies in most cases to issues of paternity — would ensure that men knew they were always responsible for their biological children as the law currently allowed men to simply walk away.“I do not believe if any of us searched our conscience that we would believe such discrimination should be allowed,” he said.

The bill was supported by Alfonso Wright, who added that DNA testing should be considered as a mandatory form for ensuring the right fathers were cited, as well as Osbourne Bodden, who said by naming fathers on birth certificates it was at least one step towards addressing the problem of what he descried as  “deadbeat dads".

 Lucille Seymour , the third elected member for George Town, also stood to support the bill as she said there were very many children affected by this law. She said children born outside of wedlock were not uncommon in Cayman. She also pointed out that if Cayman had adopted the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) they might have spotted the problem with this law sooner, and she said the convention needed to be adopted as soon as possible. She said all of the country’s laws would need to be examined to ensure they were not discriminating against women and she asked the attorney general to begin the undertaking now.

“We need have a complete review of the laws and to go through our legislation with a fine tooth comb and make sure we arenot discriminating against women in any other areas,” Seymour added. She thanked the second elected member for West Bay for bringing the motion and noted that it was possible for the members to be bi-partisan when it came to equality.

All of Anglin’s UDP colleagues supported the motion including Leader of the Opposition and United Democratic Party leader Mckeeva Bush. The third elected member for West Bay,  Cline Glidden, noted that the amendment would have to be carefully crafted to ensure that the wording did not give custodial rights to a father who turned up years after the fact to claim parentage when a mother had dedicated years to bringing up a child alone. In such circumstances her custodial rights needed to be protected, but he supported removing the twelve month limitation.

Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts offered his official support from government and agreed with the need to have mechanisms in the amendment that would prove paternity. He said assumptions and trust were all well and good but it was better to have scientific proof. “The government is willing to accept this motion and will begin working on the amendments,” Tibbetts said.

On the passage of the motion, Anglin said it was a good day for women and children in Cayman.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    It’s about time!

    What took Rolston so long to bring forward anything in the past 4 years? Of course we are well aware of what this is all about – politics yes – but the people will benefit – I just hope they are not fooled by Rolston’s well time gesture.

    Vote this donkeys out of office – they are NOT earning their keep.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Thanks, and I totally agree with previous comments!!

    I only wish this could have been done long ago.  I have a teenager and God be my witness the biolgocial "dead beat" father didn’t support my child. Something should also be done with the "dead beat fathers" not paying the child support .  What is $50 per week? This can’t even buy a child lunch for the week at school, let alone everything else that comes with raising a child.

    Any man can be a father, but it takes someone special to be a "Dad".

    • Anonymous says:

      I totally agree that deadbeat fathers should be held to account but why is it that in this day and age we still have women getting pregnant for useless men (including other womens husbands)? Are they so desperate for a man, any man, they don’t think? Why dont they use contraception (dont ask the man-puleese)-do they secretely want to get pregnant? Is it a status thing? Does it fulfill them as women to have a child for some useless no good who has already moved on to share his seed with the next gullible woman by the time the baby is born? Someone needs to explore this sad single woman no permanent man syndrome as it is happening to very young, sometimes promising, women who are hooking up with "men" who just use them and move on. 

      • Anonymous says:

        Thank you UDP for righting what was obviously an antiquated law, that has slipped under the radar for years. Not only will this benefit the children, but the country in the long run, as so many of these kids end up having to rely on Social Services for basic needs, which ends up costing all of us in the long run. And it may have the positive effect of these young people being a little more careful.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I agree with this new law they want to past. I think there is a lot of children out there that need the support from their real fathers. But i dont agree with the court system when it comes to a child that was brought into a married that do not belongs to the man in the union, that he should pay for that child. It should be that the man choose to support the child on his own and not be obligated by the court to do so. Reason i say that you have few woman that takes advantage of this situation and the man cant say anything or feels like he is just a paycheck come the end of the month.



  4. Anonymous says:

    CEDAW was brought up many years ago but the men were against it.  I am quite happy to say that none of the men listed above was in this meeting.

    CEDAW should be looked into again.  It is very important. 

  5. Anonymous says:

    I don’t care what their reasons are for finally making these very important changes. All I know is that I support them 100% on this one!

  6. Anonymous says:

    I completely agree with this need for the country.

    My only concern is whether this is only political posturing for the upcoming elections or a sincere attempt to right a wrong.

    • Anonymous says:

      I do not care what the motive was, I think it took a lot of guts and I am proud of the opposition and government for taking this stand. Children become the victims in the old legislation.