Banning Father’s Day

I was just going to write about how thousands of primary school children in Scotland were banned from making Father’s Day cards this year. Then I found out that the same thing happened at the school of an Unnamed Child in the heart of England. It’s probably even more widespread.

This has been done, as they said in Scotland, “in the interests of sensitivity” because of the growing number of single-parent households and children living with a mother and her lesbian partner. I’m hoping there’s none of the latter at the Unnamed Child’s school, as it is in direct violation of the dogma of the Church that runs the school.

Let’s set aside for a moment the children living in Gomorrah situations, as these are thankfully still less than normative. The sensitivity is really over the fact that 25% of children live with a single parent. They don’t want to make the children uncomfortable if they don’t have a father. And herein lies the specious reasoning.

Everyone has a father. I know that science and the Labour government are working to change that, but for now – and certainly for any child of school age – it took a sperm and an egg. Some children may have lost their father through death. This is a terrible thing, but this has always been the case and Father’s Day has never been cancelled because of it.

It is true that there are in increasing number of children who don’t know their father. This may be because their mother doesn’t know who the father is. Or it may be because the father has been marginalised. I know of more than a few cases whether the mother has simply cut the father out of the child’s life.

In most cases, however, the child knows who the father is and even has some sort of relationship with the father, even if his is not resident in the same home. It’s these father’s who get cut out of Father’s Day. As Matt O’Connor, founder of Fathers For Justice, said: “I’m astonished at this. It totally undermines the role and significance of fathers whether they are still with the child’s mother or not. It also sends out a troubling message to young boys that fathers aren’t important.”

Alastair Noble, education officer with the charity Christian Action, Research and Education (CARE), said: “This seems to be an extreme and somewhat absurd reaction. I would have thought that the traditional family and marriage are still the majority lifestyles of people in Scotland. To deny the experience of the majority just does not seem sensible.”

An Unnamed Woman often suggests that rant too often about the “ought” instead accepting the “is”. (That is my terminology, not hers.) I was once told that I will never be successful unless I give up my pre-modern principles and accept the the ways of the modern world.  Perhaps this is true. But despite the 25% of families with a single resident parent, there are still 75% who have both parents resident. There are still most of the 25% who have a dad somewhere.

Most of all, there is still a need to remember that fathers are just as important as mothers.

The Price of Honour

Rand Abdel-Qader

This is the face of Islam. She’s dead. Daddy did it.

Rand Abdel-Qader was 17. She had a crush on a British soldier. She met him when she was a volunteer on a project. There was no actual relationship between the two of them. She hadn’t even seen him since January, but her dad found out in mid-March that she had been seen talking to him. One of her friends told him.

No doubt feeling fatherly concern, he asked her if it was true that she had met the soldier. Then, as fathers do (at least in certain cultures that are, of course, equal to all other cultures) he began to beat her savagely. But sometimes a good beating just isn’t enough.

With the help of her brothers (like father, like sons) he held her down with his foot on her throat until she stopped breathing. What a nice daddy. He didn’t want her to feel the pain as he then began to cut at her body with a knife. It’s hard to say what actually killed her – whether it was being stamped on, suffocated, or stabbed repeatedly all over her body.

And it’s not like there was a post-mortem. She was wrapped up and tossed in a grave without any mourning, because she had brought shame on the family. It was a family funeral. Her uncles showed up to spit on her body before it was covered with dirt.

Daddy was arrested. He was released after two hours because it was an honour killing. Sgt Ali Jabbar of Basra police said: “Not much can be done when we have an ‘honour killing’. You are in a Muslim society and women should live under religious laws.”

It would be terrible enough if this were an exceptional story. The only reason it is news is because it is the first case known to involve a British soldier in Iraq (if “involve” is even the right word). There were 47 honour killings just in Basra last year. That’s 47 other girls, just like Rand, just in one city, just in one year.