Barbados’ main advocacy group for men has been given a failing grade for its representation of fathers who have been denied access to their children.
The stinging indictment has come from founder of Access for Fathers, Kammie Holder, who said today he was forced to step up and take the lead on the issue because the Men’s Education Support Association (MESA) had simply dropped the ball.
“MESA is an organization which has a problem with men calling bad mothers ‘dead beat’ but has no problem with women calling men the same thing. MESA has lost their mandate and it has left me no choice but to start my own [group] to represent men who are going through this issue,” said Holder, who went public on social media last weekend with details of his own bitter child custody battle and has since stepped up a public campaign on Facebook to raise public awareness of the issues confronting men.
When contacted for comment today on Holder’s charges, the Chairman of MESA Grantley Osbourne said he preferred to issue his response at a later date.
However, MESA is on record as having voiced strong objection to the harsh treatment it says is usually meted out to men when they go to court to deal with paying child support, compared to the women who refuse to let men see the same children they’re providing money for.
Back in 2015, MESA went as far as calling for mandatory DNA testing at childbirth in an effort to protect men from paying child support for children that were not theirs.
However, while suggesting that MESA is all bark and no bite, Holder also contended that after years of promising to challenge the legal system, the problem remains largely unchecked with frustration mounting among men who continue to be denied access to their children.
“I am meeting too many men in this country who do not have access to their children,” said Holder, who is also public relations manager of the Future Center Trust, adding that “maintenance is an obligation of any parent and the parent’s access to a child is a right.
“This is not just about but our society because dysfunction impacts on our crime statistics. How many children have to jump over partitions in order to get to see their parent? Since we have started this programme on Facebook we have had a 100,000 page views and everyday I am getting no less than five requests for discussion because the issue has been allowed to fester in this country. Something needs to be done to correct the imbalance,” he said.
“We have been writing UNICEF, we are also going to be writing the United Human Rights Association, the Chief Justice and the Attorney General. This is not a problem that is unique to Barbados. From my own experience, cases are adjourned too far in the future. In my case, the plaintiff’s attorney said she had to go and collect her child and for that my case has been pushed back until March next year. In the meantime, my daughter will not see me for Christmas, she will not spend my mother’s 75th birthday with her and this is not fair to me nor my daughter,” he lamented.