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System renders men second-class citizens

Just recently it has been reported that marriages are in decline, along with birthrates in Bermuda, thus matching trends around the world. We researched as to why this is happening?

Many women cannot find “Mr Right”, even though they are looking hard to find him. Are men wilfully abandoning marriages? Why is this happening?

According to Helen Smith, author of Men on Strike: Why Men Are Boycotting Marriages, Fatherhood and the American Dream, “ultimately, men know there's a good chance they'll lose their friends, their respect, their space, their sex life, their money, their family — if it all goes wrong”.

Dr Smith added: “They don't want to enter into a legal contract with someone who could effectively take half their savings, pension and property, when the honeymoon period is over.

“Men aren't wimping out by staying unmarried or being commitment-phobes. They are being smart.”

American social commentator Suzanne Venker agrees. The problem with divorce settlements, she says, “is women want to have their cake and eat it. We have messed with the old marriage structure and now it's broken.

“Back in the old days, stay-at-home mothers got financial rewards because child-rearing doesn't pay cash. Now we want total independence from men, but if we divorce — even without having children — we expect to get alimony for ever. We can't have it both ways.”

Venker adds: “Many women have been raised to think of men as the enemy. It's precisely this dynamic — women good, men bad — that has destroyed the relationship between the sexes.” Further, Venker says, “after decades of browbeating, men are tired; tired of being told there's something fundamentally wrong with them. Tired of being told that if women aren't happy, it's their fault. The rise of women has not threatened men; it has irritated them.

But by far the most negative aspect of marriage is the likelihood of being edited out of your children's lives — if it all goes pear-shaped — by a state that has relegated the role of father to its lowest point ever”.

Peter Lloyd tells us in his book Stand By Your Manhood that “according to the Office for National Statistics, marriage in Britain is at its lowest level since 1895”. A 41 per cent decline for the period of 1972 to 2011. He speaks to how men are abused, belittled and exploited. “One in three youngsters has no access to their fathers, which equates to four million children in the UK.”

Sir Bob Geldof was one of the first high-profile men in Britain to challenge the legislation after losing access to his daughters, Peaches, Pixie and Fifi, when Paula Yates left him in 1995. “I had to borrow money and was close to losing it all,” Sir Bob said. “Men still spend thousands getting court orders that aren't worth the paper they're written on. The whole system is disgusting.”

Childwatch Bermuda agrees. Here, fathers are relegated to second-class citizens after a divorce/separation: they are not heard in court, not given a say as to their children's welfare, not provided information pertaining to their children, and in most cased are alienated from their children. The only requirements from fathers after divorce/separation are their financial support, while looked upon as ATMs, as if they're bankers and not parents. Meantime, 85 per cent of custody goes to mothers, while fathers are driven to becoming visitors, thus, having a great consequence on fatherhood and creating many challenges.

Meanwhile, mothers and children demand that they are entitled to everything after divorce/separation, while numerous fathers struggle to keep up with the demands, in many cases losing their property and all they have worked for during their entire lives, just because their marriages have failed.

Most times unilateral decisions are made to end the marriage by their spouses, mostly because of high demands put upon the man, in many cases. Men have been made to pay for children who are not theirs, and are not compensated for these frauds. Some have been “thrown under the bus” in cases of custody automatically going to their child's maternal family member despite the father being willing to play his role in his child's rearing.

Hence, these fathers are made to pay child support to the maternal family member and he is not given the opportunity to raise the child, having had no allegations ever made against him. Their human rights are being violated by the system. The domino effect is marriage in decline, which reduces the birthrate. Recent Bermuda stats show that childbirths are down. Meantime, we look towards bringing in immigrants to make up the shortfall in our pensions and to assist with the country's debt.

Wouldn't we be better served with “shared parenting” (equitable custody and responsibility) laws, and programmes to strengthen marriages to further enhance our future children's lives and our country?

Edward Tavares is the co-founder of Childwatch Bermuda

Err ... no thanks: marriage is in decline as men grow increasingly tired of the lopsided consequences if it fails, says Edward Tavares

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Published January 19, 2016 at 8:00 am (Updated January 19, 2016 at 12:49 am)

System renders men second-class citizens

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