Oscar William-Donkor, a Medical Laboratory Scientist with Effia Nkwanta Regional Hospital says, in recent years, Ghana has been grappling with an issue that strikes at the heart of trust and family bonds: paternity fraud.
According to him, paternity fraud occurs when a man is wrongly led to believe that he is the biological father of a child, often due to intentional misrepresentation by the mother.
Oscar William-Donkor who doubled as Certified DNA Testing Sampler, cDTS and Executive Director of Labpreneurs Network, an organ of the Ghana Association of Medical Laboratory Scientist with the mandate to create avenue for Medical Laboratory professionals to Network and build entrepreneurial capabilities disclosed that, this deceptive practice can have profound emotional, psychological, and financial consequences for all parties involved. In this article, he delves into the phenomenon of paternity fraud in Ghana, exploring its causes, impacts, and the urgent need for legal and social reforms.
He noted that, paternity fraud is not unique to Ghana, but it remains a pressing concern in the country. It involves a woman falsely attributing the biological fatherhood of her child to a man, either intentionally or unintentionally. The reasons behind this deception can vary, ranging from financial gain, social pressure, desire for emotional support, or simply desire to maintain a relationship.
Several factors contribute to the prevalence of paternity fraud in Ghana. These include:
1. Lack of Awareness and Education: Limited knowledge about reproductive health and the scientific methods available for establishing paternity contributes to the vulnerability of men who can easily be deceived.
2. Social Stigma and Shame: Ghanaian society places significant importance on family reputation, making it challenging for women to admit to infidelity or for men to question their biological fatherhood without facing societal backlash.
3. Financial Incentives: In some cases, paternity fraud is driven by financial motives, such as securing financial support from a man believed to be the biological father.
The consequences of paternity fraud extend far beyond the individuals involved. They include:
1. Emotional and Psychological Trauma: Discovering that a child is not biologically related can cause immense emotional pain, feelings of betrayal, and shattered trust, leading to long-lasting psychological effects on both the man and the child.
2. Financial Burden: Men who unknowingly assume the role of fatherhood may bear the financial responsibility of raising a child who is not biologically theirs, resulting in significant financial strain.
3. Legal and Custody Issues: Paternity fraud can complicate legal proceedings, including child custody battles and the division of parental rights. It raises questions about the child’s best interests and can disrupt the family dynamic.
Addressing paternity fraud requires a comprehensive approach involving legal, social, and educational measures. Some potential steps that can be taken include:
1. Legal Reforms: Strengthening legal frameworks to protect the rights of individuals involved in cases of paternity fraud, establishing clear guidelines for paternity testing, and introducing penalties for deliberate deception.
2. Public Awareness Campaigns: Initiating public education campaigns to increase awareness about paternity fraud, reproductive health, and available scientific methods for establishing paternity, such as DNA testing.
3. Counseling and Support: Providing counselling services and support groups for individuals affected by paternity fraud to help them cope with emotional distress and navigate legal and financial challenges.
4. Paternity Testing Facilities: Expanding access to reliable and affordable paternity testing facilities across the country to ensure accurate determination of biological fatherhood.
Paternity fraud in Ghana is a complex issue with deep emotional, psychological, and financial ramifications for all parties involved. Recognizing the causes and consequences of this phenomenon is the first step towards discovering solutions.
By implementing legal reforms, raising awareness, and providing support services, Ghana can strive to protect the rights and well-being of all individuals affected by paternity fraud, fostering a society built on trust, honesty, and the best interests of the child.