Letter: Help for mothers to prevent 'home alone' children

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The Independent Online
Sir: 'There must be an alternative to leaving a child alone all day,' said Judge Harrison Hall in sentencing an unmarried mother to six months in jail for working while her two-year-old daughter stayed at home ('Mother jailed for leaving girl on her own', 3 August). What a great pity for other women in her situation, and what a dereliction of duty, that the judge did not use his position to name the alternatives: that we vote for a government that would provide free or affordable care for all pre-school children and that we question why a 23-year-old woman who worked full-time earned only pounds 100 a week.

Unplanned pregnancies have been a feature of human life - upper, middle and lower class - since time began. They will not go away. If this baby was unplanned, should she have been aborted? And if she was planned, should we punish the woman so severely because she chose to earn a private income rather than take public benefits? Her position was invidious and the judges and journalists who comment upon it do so for salaries many times greater than hers.

Society let her down more than she did her own child. Her intention was to provide, society's was to offer Hobson's choice. She could not win.

Yours faithfully,

ELISABETH RIBBANS

London, E14

3 August

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