Fathers’ Rights…

May 25, 2010

I am helping a young man apply for his passport. It has been a little more tricky because this particular young man has lived in different institutions for most of his life and, because of human trafficking, Home Affairs make it a bit more difficult for a minor to apply for a passport. At first I was really happy about this, even though it was extra trouble for us, because I think being more stringent and minimizing the chances of young people being trafficked is a good thing.

So yesterday, after being told on the first visit the legal court appointed guardian has to sign if the young person is not under the parents’ care, I took the young man’s grandma (she is his legal guardian though he does not live with her) and him to Home Affairs. They took the papers, did everything that needed to be done, and we were on our way. This morning I got a call from someone at Home Affairs saying that they need the letter from the court (an official document) saying that his grandmother is his legal guardian, or both parents signatures. I was annoyed that they and not told us that when we were there.

I asked about just getting his mother’s signature, because the father is, and has been uninvolved for the child’s entire life. The lady told me that because the father signed the birth certificate, he also has to sign consent for a passport. “Even if he has never been involved in the kid’s life, and doesn’t even know what the kid looks like?!” I asked, kind of aggravated at the concept. The lady said yes. I said it was a bit ridiculous, in my opinion, and she told me that it was because of new laws the government has made to “protect fathers’ rights”. I laughed and said, “I do not believe fathers who make babies and don’t look after them have any rights as a father.”

The lady, maybe sharing my sentiment but more just wanting to get off the phone said, “Yeah, well they do now.”

I wanted to shout and scream. I wanted to tell the lady that having a penis and the ability to make babies does not make a person a father, or even a “real man” for that matter. I wanted to tell her with rights comes responsibility. I wanted to tell her her stupid rules were…well, stupid. But I realized I would just be shooting the messenger and she really has nothing to do with this bigger picture that makes me so angry. So, I had to vent somewhere!