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Paternity claims cut deeply

18 September 2015
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In a recent speech, Justice Minister Albert Kawana announced Government’s intention to strengthen enforcement of the existing Maintenance Act of 2003. He proposed amendments to tighten clauses that would enforce collection of monthly child maintenance payments.

 As households led by single mothers form a large part of those living in poverty in Namibia today, forcing men to adhere to their legal and moral responsibilities to support children they father must be a part of the Geingob administration’s overall poverty alleviation program.

However, the Minister revealed statistics that nearly 40% of paternity tests done nationwide for child maintenance purposes, revealed that those men identified and petitioned for maintenance payments were not the biological fathers of the children involved. 

For those committed to the fight for gender equality and equal treatment of women in all spheres of life, it must be recognized that those statistics tend to indicate that a disturbingly significant percentage of women using the legal tools available to obtain financial support for their children, could be manipulating the system fraudulently. 

Women who purposefully, with malice aforethought, make false paternity accusations must be prosecuted for fraud to the fullest extent of the law, just as run-away fathers who purposefully evade their legal, financial paternal obligations must also be harshly held accountable.

Of the 182 cases sent for paternity tests referred to by the Minister, 70 were found to be false accusations.  Such a high number of false accusations tend to eclipse the 112 cases where the tests proved positive paternity.   The taint of malicious accusations that can damage and destroy reputations and families of people falsely accused can denigrate the cases of those women with correct and legitimate paternity claims.

This is a serious breach of trust that can hurt children currently receiving assistance from their birth fathers, discourage other women from applying for their rightful child support payments, and taint efforts to increase mechanisms to get men to take up their legal responsibilities to the children they sire. 

Women perpetrating fraud to obtain child maintenance are hurting other women and their children who make legitimate claims.  All fraud is a crime but, this particular fraud can have far-reaching negative impact on innocent children.  It must be stopped.  Women found to be purposefully manipulating the system in any way, must be pursued by the law with the same vigor used for men who run away from their maintenance payments. 

There are many women who have the legal right to apply for maintenance but do not do so for a va

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