Row over who is a Bajan 'daddy'
By Rickey Singh
Guyana Chronicle
January 15, 2003

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BRIDGETOWN -- Disclosure that a high percentage of Barbadian men are really not the biological fathers of the children they think belong to them, has sparked a controversy here that could soon involve the government of Prime Minister Owen Arthur.

Already there have been strident, emotional outcries that reflect sharp divisions between women and men holding various positions in the Barbadian society.

The screaming front-page story `Duped Dads' in the `Sunday Sun' of January 12, reported the shocking data that one of three Bajan men are not really the biological fathers of some 30 per cent of the country's children who call them "daddy".

Barbados's Consul General in New York, George Griffith, ex-chairman of the Barbados Family Planning Association and former head of the country's Child Care Board, as well as another government official who requested anonymity, have been cited as sources for the article.

The problem of the number of men duped by wives or girl friends into being "daddies" of children for whom they are not the biological fathers, is serious enough, according to Griffith, to warrant the introduction of DNA testing as an effective means of settling paternity disputes before the courts.

But the proverbial ink had barely dried on the "duped dads" story when it was angrily dismissed by the current chairman of the Child Care Board, David 'Joey' Harper, as being "totally irresponsible" in the absence, he stressed, of "scientific analysis".

For Harper, who like Griffith, is viewed as a longstanding supporter of the governing Barbados Labour Party of Prime Minister Arthur, the article and specifically comments by his predecessor at the Child Care Board, constitute "on going attacks on our children..."

First, said Harper, there was the "erroneous report" (in a UNESCO document for 2002) that 10 per cent of children in Barbados were not in primary school.

"Then, based on one reported situation of a six-year-old being used by adults in the drug trade, we are given the impression that this is a large-scale situation. Now we have this irresponsible claim of the number of children not being sure of their biological father", he said.

But Harper's anger could not deter former Chief Education Officer Ralph Boyce who now heads the Men's Educational Support Association (MESA) of Barbados from joining forces with Griffith.

He thinks that for far too long Bajan men have been "victims of paternity fraud" and that a strong case exists for the introduction of DNA testing to deal with this serious social problem.

The former Chief Education Officer said it was wrong and sinful for men to be duped as biological fathers when they are not.

He called on the government to establish a mechanism by which DNA testing could become accessible and affordable to people who currently find DNA costs quite "prohibitive".

Boyce's stand coincided with that of former Member of Parliament of the opposition Democratic Labour Party, Mazie Barker-Welch, who feels that it would be a responsible approach for more "readily and accessible" DNA testing to be made available to "verify paternity".

The Child Care Board's Harper, on the other hand, was to find backing for his stand from the President of the National Organisation of Women, Nalita Gajadhar, who lambasted Consul General Griffith for advancing what she regards as a "totally ridiculous" situation that could only create "animosity between men and women of Barbados".

"I am really sick and tired of these people in positions of authority who make statements like that", declared the NOW President, adding: "We live in a real world where there is the possibility of some men fathering children that are not theirs biologically, but there is no evidence or study to support Griffith's statement".

Consul Griffith, with his own long years of involvement in both family planning and child care services, maintains that the "situation is serious enough to merit the introduction of DNA testing, and the sooner the facility is made available the better it would be".

For the government official who prefers anonymity in the media, and whose own analysis points to some 30 per cent of children calling "daddy" men who are not their biological father, the trouble has to do with mothers.

"Many mothers", he said to the 'Sunday Sun' writer, Tony Best, "really don't know who are the fathers of their children because of multiple sexual partners before pregnancy..."

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