(JAMAICA GLEANER) — With some 1.6 million Jamaican children registered between 1955 and 2017, without their fathers’ names on their birth certificates, Pastor Michael McAnuff-Jones has made a call for the Registration Act to be revised.
“The system today prevents a mother from naming the father of the child if she is not married to him, but if you’re married, the system assumes that your husband is the father of the child. We feel that it is important for the system to allow every woman, whether you’re married or not, to name the father of the child, whether he is there to sign the paper or not,” McAnuff-Jones told editors and reporters during a Men’s Forum at the newspaper’s North Street offices last week Tuesday.
He said in making such a revision of the Registration (Births and Deaths) Act of 1881, a penalty should exist to deter women from committing paternity fraud
Section 19B of the current legislation outlines that a person who wilfully provides false information to the registrar, shall be guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $250,000 or imprisonment, not exceeding three months.
“What the system does today is protect the men, but doesn’t protect the right of the child to have their father’s name on their birth certificate and that in itself creates an environment for children to lack identity and to grow up with low self-esteem and a feeling of rejection. That has all kinds of implications,” McAnuff-Jones lamented.
Member of Parliament Ronald Thwaites, told The Gleaner that making it mandatory for fathers’ names to be placed on their children’s birth certificates has been his crusade for the last four decades.
Thwaites believes that secondary to the right to life, is the right to know your parents, noting that questions of inheritance and health make fatherhood important.
When he raised the matter in parliament a few weeks ago, Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr Christopher Tufton, said the amendments to the legislation were before the legislative committee of cabinet and were likely be completed in the next two to three months.