By Kiran Thomas

Are Fathers Necessary? Two years ago, columnist Maureen Dowd of the New York Times drew fire from a variety of people, men and women alike, with her controversial book asking Are Men Necessary? It’s a valid question. Are men important only for the purpose of procreation?

Certainly it’s not all men have not made a positive contribution to their collective reputation. Some back out of relationships and leave their partners physically, emotionally or financially beaten. Some are guilty of sexual harassment, job discrimination and other injustices. On the other hand, some women behave less than admirably as well. But no reasonable person would conclude that society would be better off without either men or women. However the existing laws in Canada puts a father in a more vulnerable situation than a mother.

Children’s rights and father’s rights are subordinate to women’s rights if a women becomes a mother while not married. The mother alone can put the child out to be adopted even if the father is willing to raise the child by himself. Thus the mother avoids paying child financial support for 20+ years. From a practical standpoint, it is easy in Canada for a woman to hide the pregnancy from the potential father by moving to another jurisdiction for the purpose of adopting out the child without the father’s consent. The provincial government in the jurisdiction the child is born will not support the child’s right to identity and relationship with the biological father. The mother simply states falsely that she doesn’t know or have any information about the father. The provincial authorities won’t support the child’s identity rights by investigating.

The provincial authorities preferred that children not be raised by single fathers while they would never even consider a law requiring single mothers to forcibly surrender their children at birth to be adopted by couples only. If a biological father learns about his child and wants to father the child but the mother had already given the child for adoption, in such cases, most often the father doesn’t receive the child since judicial authorities feel that the child would have been bonded with the adopted parents – the time the child would have spent with them could be as short as 30 days.

Another interesting phenomena which makes a fathers position more fragile is the concept of “duped dads”- fathers who have to face paternity frauds and assumed/told that they are fathers of children they were looking after, but in reality they are not. Geneticists have stumbled upon this phenomenon in the course of conducting large population studies and hunting for genes that cause diseases such as cystic fibrosis. Quite often the mothers are less shocked when they learn that their husbands are not the actual father of their child.

“Duped Dads” are looking for legal redress to protect themselves against paternity fraud, raising questions about the definition of fatherhood. Several U.S. states are considering legislation that could exempt non-biological fathers from having to pay child support.

Stacy Robb, founder and president of the support group DADS Canada, said that “it’s unfair because the doctors come across this information and they don’t tell the man listed as the father on the birth certificate. It’s a disregarding of men’s rights. The point is mothers and fathers are not treated equally.”