- Community and Culture
- Published Date
- Hilma Hashange
- Hits: 732
Stepchildren are in a legal desert with regard to their positions in their families.
This week the Legal Assistance Centre released a report showing real step families are on the increase, yet there exist no laws that govern the relationship between stepparents and stepchildren. The latter are regarded as “legal strangers”.
Titled “Stepfamilies in Namibia: A Study of the Situation of Stepparents and Stepchildren and Recommendations for Law Reform”, the youth interviewed in five different regions, identified discrimination and abuse faced by stepchildren as the two most pressing problems.
The study, which is the first on this topic, explores the relationship between stepparents and stepchildren, with a particular focus on abuse, maintenance, inheritance and parental duties and responsibilities. It analyses the situation of stepfamilies and offer an in-depth discussion of relevant law reform options. The study conducted group and individual interviews with 199 young people, key informants and adults from the five regions and revealed that participants perceive stepfamilies to be very common and such relationships are common in every target region.
The participants strongly felt that stepparents have responsibilities to care for and support their stepchildren, although agreement was generally more pronounced amongst adult participants than the young. Many of the adult participants felt that when you enter into a relationship with a person who already has children, you must take them as “a package”. However, although there was wide agreement that stepparents should take responsibility for stepchildren even if they are not married to the biological parents, participants frequently indicated that this was not necessarily happening in their communities.
Whilst this is by choice in some families, the lack of legal clarity means that some stepparents do not know how to formalise their relationship with their stepchildren. Participants in all regions also viewed stepchildren as being disproportionately vulnerable to physical, emotional, economic, sexual abuse, and psychological abuse based on the child’s non-biological status. In particular, sexual abuse of stepdaughters by stepfathers was cited as a widespread problem. As one participant said, “If you make a mistake and bring a girl and the man is strong he will sleep with her (the stepdaughter), it happens a lot”.
The study reveals that many participants are in favour of a law reform and most supported imposing a legal duty of maintenance upon stepparents, with this duty being secondary to that of the biological parents. Many people also supportes a voluntary, easily accessible legal process that would allow stepparents to acquire parental rights and responsibilities and therefore legally formalise their relationship with their stepchildren.
The research also revealed that many countries have responded to the world-wide rise in stepfamilies, developing a range of laws that impose a range of rights and duties upon stepparents, to protect stepchildren and to give legal recognition to the relationship. Stepfamilies in Namibia offers an extensive and in-depth comparative analysis of the laws governing stepfamilies in over a dozen different countries, including the current legal situation in Namibia and neighbouring countries such as Botswana, Zimbabwe and South Africa.
- Articles In This Category
- Changing lives through dance and music (636 hits)Community and CultureThe Omaleshe Dance and Drumming group is a smart partner of the Bank Windhoek Arts Festival (BWAF) since 2008. This group has made tremendous strides...Bank commemorates World AIDS Day (1214 hits)Community and CultureBank Windhoek has joined millions of people worldwide to create awareness about HIV/AIDS and the devastating effect it has on society, as well as the...New Katutura musical film (306 hits)Community and CultureThe FNB Foundation is sponsoring the production of a new musical film, Katutura, which will be shot on location in Windhoek’s most famous location....Breweries donates to education trust (400 hits)Community and CultureNamibia Breweries Limited (NBL) this week handed a donation of N$5000 to the Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, Hon John Mutorwa, in his...Community and CultureBorn Kurt Van Heerden, on 19 February 1970 in Pretoria, Darren has been part of the South African music industry for years. He released his...Namcor profits help learners learn (100 hits)Community and CultureThe National Petroleum Corporation of Namibia (NAMCOR) recently donated N$41,000 to the Gobabis Combined Project School and another N$41,000 to the...ClaSH fight ear infections (995 hits)Community and CultureAn office administrator of ClaSH, Blanca Kamati has said insufficiently treated ear infections are the leading cause of hearing impairments in...Sexual health rights reviewed (525 hits)Community and CultureNamibia will host this year’s first statutory meeting for the Regional Executive Committee of the International Planned Parenthood Federation...Embassy helps promote Spanish language (683 hits)Community and CultureThe Embassy of Spain officially launched the Spanish club “Que Pas” at the University of Namibia, last week. The club was launched by Carmen...Human Capital Fishing donates to church (146 hits)Community and CultureHuman Capital Fishing Company CC announced their first social responsibility milestone this week when the fishing newcomer donated a PC and printer...
- Latest Articles
- Spanish navy ship “Rayo” visits Lüderitz (229 hits)General NewsThe Spanish Navy Ship “Rayo” paid a visit to Luderitz this week. This is the first time this brand new ship, an ocean patrol vessel, entered...Conference in the North launched (545 hits)HeadlinesIts official, the Economist Businesswomen Club this week launched the 14th edition of its annual Businesswomen Conference in the North when...Govt urged to restructure energy (520 hits)HeadlinesThe business community has called for the restructuring of the local energy sector to allow for more players in the sector in order to guarantee...Trade with UK falls 28% (482 hits)HeadlinesThe decision by the world’s leading diamond company De Beers to move its diamond sorting operations from London to Botswana has seen a 28% drop in...The winter of our energy discontent (88 hits)Editors DeskWith the first portent of another winter arriving during the week, energy is again on everybody’s mind. And it is not only the dreaded fear of an...