Promoting responsible fatherhood can help prevent child marriages and domestic violence and contribute to an environment whereby women and children have access to their basic rights.
This was the crux of a discussion held on Monday at a local hotel organised by the Rutgers World Population Foundation (WPF).
Rutgers WPF Assistant Programme Officer Natasha Sajjad said fathers were usually more responsive to children despite being less emotionally expressive with them.
They didn’t spend as much time with children due to other engagements, she added.
“These set patterns are affecting families’ overall development and are the major cause for increasing incidents of domestic violence and early child marriages,” she said.
Patterns of gender inequality were borne out of the stereotypical norms of masculinity and men’s gender identities, said Sajjad.
“This has serious implications for women’s health and social development as well as for men’s health and interpersonal relationships,” she said.
Sajjad referred to a household survey recently conducted in Dera Ghazi Khan, Muzaffargarh, Jacobabad, Kashmore, Jafferabad and Naseerabad, for which around 5,000 women were interviewed.
While 62 per cent of respondents said they had witnessed domestic violence during their childhoods, 75 per cent said their children had witnessed the physical abuse inflicted upon them by their husbands.
Exposure to such violence had a negative impact on young minds and led to aggressive streaks in their character, she said.
Rutgers WPF Assistant Programme Officer Amina Sarwar said it was critical for women to engage men in childcare activities at home if they wished to see long-term behavioural changes in children.
“Men should play their role in creating an environment which transforms their children’s behaviour so that their sons understand the meaning of gender equality and their daughters understand the concept of female empowerment,” she said.
Sajjad and Sarwar announced that Rutgers WPF would commence a yearlong ‘Green Ribbon’ campaign promoting responsible fatherhood from June 16 on Father’s Day.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 11th, 2013.