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  • Thursday, May 23, 2024
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BusinessDay

Experts blame trust gap in marriages for increase in paternity issues

… Nigeria ranked as second highest in paternity fraud

…DNA test cost between N180, 000 and N2m

Medical and relationship experts have blamed increasing paternity issues in Nigeria on trust deficit among couples nowadays.

Many couples in Nigeria are increasingly resorting to Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) testing due to rising challenges such as infidelity suspicions, fertility struggles, and migration-related worries.

Experts have described as disturbing, the rate at which cases around paternity issues arise these days.

Read also: Nigerians share their views on increasing paternity fraud

There are about four relationship DNA tests available and popular in Nigeria which range from N180,000 to N2 million.

Nigeria is recently facing rising paternity disputes, that have put heavy weight on trust in modern marriages amid societal changes.

The media is awash with news over children not belonging to the supposed fathers after some DNA tests.

A DNA relationship test is the use of genetic profiles to determine whether an individual is the biological parent of another individual.

Recent studies have revealed that one in every four tested men turned out not to be the biological father of their child(ren) and ranks Nigeria as the second highest in paternity fraud.

However, Medical experts have weighed in on the matter, offering insights into the factors contributing to the surge in paternity disputes and advocating caution amid rising paternity complexity in Nigeria.

Casimir Ifeanyi, a scientist and National President of the Association of Medical Laboratory Scientists of Nigeria (AMLSN) said it is common knowledge that children are not rejected in the palace even though we are in the technological world and living in the highly knowledge age.

Read also: Fans react on Geremi Njitap’s paternity fraud, after 12 years of marriage

“DNA testing is a current ball of disrupting families. we are harming the society and family structure and we have to be cautioned. DNA testing is becoming prevalent, and it is not helping the system,” he said.

“What this means is that spouses are just telling each other that they don’t trust themselves, relationships should not be transactional and this should be done with caution.”

Addressing the ethical implications of DNA testing, Ifeanyi, cautioned against its indiscriminate use, particularly in the absence of valid disputes. “There is a high rate of infertility scenarios among couples and most of them rely on IVF for children. My advice to Nigerians and young people in particular, DNA remains in the medicolegal scenarios.

“We should not profile children, we need to be cautious and it should be necessary before testing for DNA, doing this destroys the psychology of children. This thought infuses the children and they grow with it. So, if there are no disputes, I do not think people should not probe or profile the children.”

“I urged healthcare professionals to prioritize the protection of families, they should not be driven over financial gains.”

The President of the Association added that fathering a child is not only by spermatozoa, let technology be used for service, the society should not allow it to break homes.

“We have issues of infidelity and promiscuity, if a child paternity is in disagreement, I don’t think because of their migration, that should be the basis to justify to profiling their children.

“It is only when a father claims justly over a child, that the DNA can be justified,” said Ifeanyi.

Despite the emotional confusion that go with paternity disagreements, experts emphasize the importance of addressing such issues with empathy and understanding.

Richard Adebayo, a clinical psychologist, said that there is a need for wide-ranging support systems to assist individuals navigating the complications of paternity exposure.

“Paternity disagreements can have deep psychological consequences for all parties involved, including the children. It’s essential to approach these situations with sensitivity and compassion, offering therapeutic interventions to facilitate healing and reconciliation,” advises Adebayo.

In the same vein, Marriage Counsellor, Adeyinka Badmus, of a Pentecostal church stresses open communication to prevent grievances. The stigma surrounding arguments often hinders resolutions.

“As DNA testing becomes more accessible, individuals are increasingly opting to verify the paternity of their children. While this may lead to uncomfortable revelations, it also serves as a catalyst for truth and accountability within familial relationships,” said Badmus.

Meanwhile, despite the fact DNA testing may unveil uncomfortable truths, it also presents an opportunity for individuals to confront realities and forge paths towards healing and reconciliation in the face of uncertainty.

One of the most prevailing inquiries regarding DNA testing often centres on its cost in Nigeria. Various DNA testing services exist, each tailored to specific needs, procedures, and associated costs, dispelling the start of fixed expensiveness.

Finding from Smart DNA, a leading provider of DNA testing in Nigeria, according to their website reveals there are different types of DNA testing services, each with its own unique use cases, procedures and cost implications.

Outlining the price ranges Paternity DNA testing typically costs between N180,000 to N250,000, while prenatal DNA testing is priced at N1,500,000 to N2,000,000.

Legal DNA testing falls within the range of N270,000 to N350,000, and immigration DNA testing ranges from N270,000 to N500,000. These costs vary depending on the type of test, its complexity, and associated legal requirements.

According to studies, “DNA paternity test has more than 99 percent chances of being accurate when performed and interpreted correctly.”

Also, describing what is paternity, according to Synlab Diagnostic Centre, Paternity of a child means being the father of that child.

“Paternity testing provides strong scientific evidence by using DNA to establish whether a paternal biological relationship exists between a man and a child.

“The use of several segments of DNA called short tandem repeats allows paternity to be practically proven with a 99.999% probability. When the probability is 0%, paternity is excluded,” the diagnostic centre noted.

Maternity testing, which works like the paternity test, establishes whether a woman is the biological mother of a child.

“Kinship testing is used for non-parental biological relationships such as a grandparent, brother or sister, aunt or uncle. It also utilises DNA to determine the likelihood of a biological relationship between individuals,” Synlab added.

According to a medical expert at Mercure Laboratories, the men are the ones that usually bring the child or children for this test. She further said many first borns were not fathered by the husband at home because ladies had a prior relationship before getting married most times they continue with that relationship and do not leave it even after marriage.

The stigma surrounding single parenthood, particularly for women, is immense. This societal pressure can lead women to make choices they might not otherwise consider, potentially contributing to paternity fraud. Additionally, ingrained expectations around family size and structure can influence decisions about childbearing.

Notably, most tests are conducted for “peace of mind,” suggesting personal concerns rather than legal disputes drive many requests. Interestingly, men are more likely to initiate paternity tests compared to women. The data suggests a possible cultural preference for confirming the paternity of male children. Further research is needed to understand the reasons behind this finding. It’s crucial to remember this data represents a specific location and may not be entirely representative of the situation nationwide.

Paternity fraud is a complex issue with no easy answers. However, by addressing the root causes, we can create a more supportive environment for families: Strengthening social safety nets like affordable childcare and healthcare can alleviate the economic anxieties that can contribute to paternity fraud. Creating better economic opportunities empowers couples to raise families without undue financial pressure.

Building strong communication and trust within relationships is fundamental. Open and honest conversations about family planning and expectations can help couples make informed decisions and avoid situations leading to paternity fraud. Comprehensive sex education programs and open conversations about healthy relationships can empower young people to make responsible choices about their sexual health and future families.

Unmasking paternity fraud requires a multi-faceted approach. By addressing the underlying social and economic factors, promoting open communication, and fostering a culture of informed decision-making, Nigeria can build a stronger foundation for families. This, in turn, can lead to a decrease in paternity fraud and a brighter future for generations to come.

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