F is for failing women, not fallen women

It has been rough reading, listening and viewing over the past week. We learned of a mass grave of 800 children who were literally dumped into a septic tank and then last night’s repeat of the excellent Prime Time investigates documentary, Anatomy of a Scandal, told us about illegal medical trials conducted on vulnerable infants by highly revered medical professionals from our leading medical schools for global pharmaceutical companies.

Yet these mothers were considered fallen!  

Stories like these and the industrial schools and the Magdalene laundries remind us of our sordid past and how the most vulnerable were mistreated and abused.  We recoil in horror and unite in anger and outrage and thank our lucky stars that we have moved on or have we?

How often have we heard or watched derogatory comments about single mothers? Isn’t there such a negative undertone to the expression single mother?  Invariably single mothers are deemed spongers, layabouts who take handouts and do nothing all day long.

Let’s have a look at some stats, because I often find actual data can be more telling than irrational bias and right wing propaganda. So here goes:

  • There were 1,179,210 families in the State on Census Night 2011.
  • Almost 1 in 4 families with children in Ireland is a one-parent family, compared to 14% average across EU27 (Census 2011, Eurostat 2011.)
  • The number of One-Parent Family Payment recipients stood at 90,307 on 31 December, 2011 (MerrionStreet 2012.)
  • Of lone parents 14.4 per cent were unemployed compared with 11.8 per cent of couples, (Census 2011.)

So why are we still giving out about single mothers?  Or single parents for that matter, let’s not forget that 13.5% of one-parent families are headed by a father (Census 2011). The stats above tell us they’re not ALL claiming benefits and of those that do, the rate is marginally higher than the unemployment rates of couples.

So get off their back. Be glad we’ve moved on and are no longer locking them into involuntary servitude whilst selling their offspring to rich Catholics abroad or for the less lucky – using them as guinea pigs for the corporate good while those that perished were literally thrown away.

We’ve come this far. Go a little further and appreciate that it’s not easy raising a family alone so rather than castigating them as social pariahs – give them a pat on the back, a leg up and a job if they’re asking. There are bigger fish to fry if we’re looking to give out about a demographic that has our country bankrupt.

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