Fathers are known to be heads of any family and are charged with the responsibility to protect, love, bring joy, and ensure the upkeep of their families.
Over the years, however, some fathers have shunned their responsibilities and left the task of catering for their families on the women, many of whom have now become breadwinners of their families.
It has also been observed that in the course of shirking their responsibilities, husbands and spouses have violated or mistreated women and children in the process.
Statistics from the Social Welfare of the Domestic Violence and Victims Support Unit (DOVVSU) of the Ghana Police Service for example showed that the number of fathers said to be irresponsible keep rising over the past three years.
Mr Dela Ashiabor, Head of Social Welfare at the DOVVSU, a total of 8,098 cases of fathers either misconducting themselves or behaving irresponsible were received between 2011 and the first half of this year.
The breakdown is 2671 cases in 2011 as against 3759 in 2012, a rise of 40.73 per cent, while reported cases for January to May, this year stood at 1668.
According to the Social Welfare Head, close to 25 cases were reported to the unit every day.
He said where husbands are found liable for physically abusing their wives they are made to pay for the medical treatment of the women.
In some cases too, he said, the couple are asked to seek Alternative Dispute Resolution in court to resolve the case amicably.
“In the extreme case where a husband is found guilty, he is sentenced to a number of years in prison as his punishment,” he said.
Mr Ashiabor identified four categories of fathers who are deemed to be irresponsible.
“There are those who intentionally turn away from their responsibilities as fathers, fathers who genuinely do not have the resources to cater for their families, the seasonal folks including fishermen and farmers who infrequently or irregularly cater for their families and fathers who work in the formal sector in offices and receive monthly payments but neglect to look after their families,” he said
According to him, research findings show that children who grow up with both parents have the best upbringing.
He said it has also been found out that fathers who have the resources but ignore their responsibilities towards their children and wives normally do so to make their families go through pain and hardship.
Mr Ashiabor said, “Some do it as a way to punish their wives even though they are aware the wives do not have the resources to cater for themselves and their children.”
Mr Ashiabor said there are also fathers who genuinely do not have the resources to take care of their families. Such fathers try as much as possible in some ways to cater especially for their children .
He said in such homes it is common to find the wife take on some of her husband’s responsibilities such as providing food for the house and other petty expenses, while the man pays the children’s school fees. “This is for the best interest of the family,” he said.
He observed for instance that seasonal folks such as the fishermen and farmers who get money occasionally give small amounts of fish or whatever it is that they produce to their wives to sell. The income their wives get from such sales are used to look after the children.
He explained that such husbands believe that insofar as their wives have been given some produce to sell, their wives do not have the right to demand extra money for the upkeep of the house until much later. Sometimes, he explained, the income generated is so small that it does not suffice the woman and her children.
However, he said children also suffer more when there is a divorce, especially in cases where the woman takes custody of the children. The father assumes that since the children are with their mother, she should provide their needs. In such situations children are neglected; they become dropouts with no hope for the future.
“There are also instances where men convince their wives not to work and end up abusing them for the fact that they get tired of being the sole breadwinners of the house”. Mr Ashiabor explained.
Mr Ashiabor said some of the abuses women suffer at the hands of their husbands cause psychological as well as physical damage on the women, particularly with regard to insults.
In some instances, he said, children are beaten mercilessly at the least provocation because a man wants to get at the wife.