Women and children first : LETTERS

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The Independent Online
From Mr T. J. Campion Sir: I regret that your leading article of 24 January ("Hollow victory for men") demonstrates the same ignorance of the true nature of family breakdown that characterised Margaret Thatcher's campaign for the Child Support Act.

Statistics from Social Trends and the General Household Survey, 1993 show that births outside marriage are 32 per cent of all births, consisting of: single registration, 7 per cent; joint registration, 25 per cent. Lone mothers are made up of: single, 37per cent; divorced 60 per cent; widowed etc 3 per cent. Thus, at least 93 per cent of children are the product of marriage or a "stable" relationship and therefore are children either actively planned for or willingly "owned" by the father. The great majority of families now fatherless arise from such relationships.

The data from Davis and Murch at Bristol (Grounds for Divorce 1988) reveal clearly that the great majority of marriage break-ups (between 70 and 90 per cent, depending on how the figures are interpreted) are unilaterally instigated by women. (Data for the break-up of cohabiting relationships are unavailable). Since custody of children goes automatically to mothers in 90 per cent of cases, it is clear that the great majority of "absent" fathers have been unwillingly forced away from their children.

Parenthood is, indeed, for life and the high incidence of physical and mental ill-health (including severe depression and suicide) witnessed in divorced fathers reflects in part the severe stress that being unable to give physical expression to what is adeeply rooted psychological need imposes on them.

The Child Support Act is indeed a piece of social engineering but it is not one that reflects an understanding of this human and social reality but, as Patricia Morgan has pointed out in her recently published Farewell to the Family, is part of a patternof taxation and benefit policies that are creating the biological unit of the mother and her children as the sole family unit recognised and supported by the State.

Yours faithfully, T. J CAMPION Chairman Family Law Action Group Midhurst, West Sussex 27 January

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