Why don't paternal kin offer Nairobi single mother's support?
Three years on, Judith Atieno’s son does not know what it feels like to have a father or relatives from his father’s side.
When they spoke last, Judith says they had a confrontation regarding his irregular contributions to the child’s well being.
“He was sending meagre contributions after long hours of pleading. My efforts to report him to my in-laws were futile as none of them seemed to care,” said Judith angrily.
Judith, who lives in Kibera, said she decided to cut ties with her son’s father after realising that nothing came out of her pleas. “I grew tired of the arguments. In my culture, a boy child is as important as his father, where he inherits land and belongs. But now, I live with the hope that he will find his way around when the time comes,” she said.
She added that since there was no support from her husband or his family, she was forced to take odd jobs to support her two children.
Judith’s story is one among many cases of single women living in Nairobi urban slums. According to a report by African Population and Health Research Centre, only about five per cent of a child’s paternal relatives assist single mothers through financial transfers.
The report, dubbed Who Helps Single Mothers in Nairobi? The Role of Kin Support, singles out the two kinds of support that single mothers are likely to receive from kin as either financial or child-care support.
It posits that only about five per cent of potential paternal kin offered support, even among patrilineal groups where mothers had a previous partnership or marriage with the child’s father.
While the same percentage of fathers would help with child supervision, bathing, feeding, or other care-giving activities, paternal kin offered virtually no child-care assistance. Among kin who offered any financial support, about a third, 35 per cent, made contributions covering more than half of the total household expenses. About half of these contributions were estimated to be worth more than Sh2,000 per month.
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