By Elezo Libanda
Katima Mulilo, 17 July – While DNA testing has been hailed as a reliable method for confirming parenthood, its introduction in Namibian courts has brought about far-reaching consequences. As families are torn apart by what would seem to be routine procedures, concerns have emerged regarding the widespread availability of DNA testing kits, which are sold over the counter in developed countries. This has led to calls from Namibian men for similar access to these kits.
However, if the Namibian government allows unrestricted access to DNA testing kits, it could lead to a rise in violence against women and innocent children. Although DNA testing kits may appear to be a blessing, the increasing number of men summoned to lower courts for child maintenance disputes, where paternity is in question, suggests that mandatory DNA testing immediately after birth could have detrimental effects. Marriages could be destroyed, and relationships between fathers and children may be severed, as some individuals might demand divorce upon discovering such information.
A man in Katima Mulilo, who chose to remain anonymous, recently shared his distressing experience with NDN. Suspecting that one of his three children might not be biologically his, he underwent a DNA test. To his dismay, the results revealed that none of the children were his biological offspring. This situation highlights the difficulty of disproving paternity in court without concrete evidence. Many men may unknowingly provide for children who are not biologically related to them due to the high cost of DNA testing, which is prohibitive for most individuals. When asked about his current relationship with his wife, the man stated that he immediately asked his wife and children to leave their marital home, as he saw no reason to continue sharing a life with them.
While DNA testing has been described as a double-edged sword, parents are still encouraged to pursue the truth when there are doubts regarding paternity. However, it must be noted that the outcome of the testing process is not always definitive, given the prevalence of violence in the current generation.
A scientific study conducted in 2005 revealed that approximately 1 in 25 fathers is not the biological parent of the child they believe to be theirs. Moreover, estimates of paternal discrepancy over the past 50 years have ranged from 1% to 30%. However, some studies, such as those based on genetic health screening, may underestimate the true level of mistaken paternity due to individuals refusing to participate or being excluded when paternity is in doubt. ~Namibia Daily News