"Fathers" to be tagged for failing to pay child support

// 26 December 2005

Parents who fail to pay child support could be tagged if plans under consideration by the Government go ahead, the Independent reports. In addition, existing penalties – such as confiscating driving licenses – would be used more often. The rationale is that if a parent is in jail, they can’t pay. Or at least, I assume this applies to all parents – the Indie story only refers to “fathers”.

The idea comes from the Work and Pensions Secretary, John Hutton, who favours a “culture change”.

“Mr Hutton believes that when conciliation fails, the agency must get tough on fathers who refuse to meet their commitments. He has told officials that harsh penalties are of little value if parents know they are unlikely to be used.”

Which makes sense. As does reform of an agency which distributes to parents only £1.85 for every £1 spent on administration.

So why has the Government waited until Boxing Day to publish these proposals, a day when there is so little news some papers don’t even print. Could it be because even mentioning this “shambles” of an agency risks reminding the electorate of what a shoddy job the Government has done (at least when it comes to the CSA)?! Or perhaps to avoid inflaming so-called “fathers rights” campaigners such as Father4Justice? It is not helped that the Indie only refers to these penalties being dished out to “fathers”. It’s undoubtably true that most absent parents are men, but I can’t imagine that the Government are really only targeting fathers who shirk their child support responsibilities?

Meanwhile, Stateside, Women’s eNews runs with a story about the various attempts to track the (shoddily small) proportion of female to male op-ed writers in general interest magazines.

“Jennifer Pozner, founder and executive director of Brooklyn-based Women In Media and News, a media watchdog group, views the under-representation of women in these general interest magazines as a result of women only being seen as experts on issues such as abortion, health care and child care.

“‘Women are not seen as authorities on the red meat issues of journalism that many of these general interest magazines cover,’ says Pozner.”

Does the UK have the same problem? Quite possibly, but I don’t know if anyone has done any research into this? I could be wrong. Let us know.

Pandagon calls attention to some good news from across the pond – legislation renewing funding for services offering support to the victims of domestic violence will also include measures aimed at helping “mail order brides” who find themselves in a violent marriage.

This will mean anyone sponsoring their fiance to enter the US must reveal any criminal convictions, and US authorities will track applications for this type of visa to spot “serial” applicants and inform their potential spouse. Foreigners coming into the US to marry a citizen will also be given leaflets on domestic violence.

Pandagon welcomes these changes, but notes that the law limits how much fiances and spouses can be told when they enter the country – calling for the US government to outlaw the marriage brokers who arrange these “mail order brides” – or “trafficking-lite”.

“Mail order bride brokers sell themselves with misogynistic language. A lot of sites and members openly denigrate American women for being too sure of ourselves and the brides-to-be are advertised as submissive and compliant. Take a man who considers submission to be possibly the most important quality in a wife, convince him that he’s obtaining a woman from a nation where the women are his fantasy of submission, and inject into his life a flesh and blood human being who actually has a will and a mind of her own and you’re setting up a situation where some nasty fights are pretty much inevitable. I don’t see how to find workable violence prevention strategies for these couples, when the men are often up front about their desires for submission.”

Even a quick google search for “mail order brides UK” brings up similar examples – this site, is called “Dating Advice” but links to several “Russian bride” agencies that promise “extremely beautiful, well educated women unspoilt by the effects of feminism and over-independence”. This one allows you to search by both age and weight. I hate to give these websites any more publicity, but this is what is really out there.

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