In the wake of the deaths of two infant children and their father who was embroiled in a custody battle with his estranged wife, the nation’s leading male rights advocacy group has urged men to seek assistance in family disputes.
The Men’s Education and Support Association (MESA) said in a statement: “This unfortunate incident signals the need for men (fathers) and women (mothers) to have a serious self-examination, and as a result for the legal minds and authorities to revisit and have an objective view when dealing with the custody of children.”
The bodies of 42-year-old English teacher Cornelius Barrow and his two infant children, ages 22 months and eight months, were found in their burnt-out apartment at Warrens Park South yesterday. Detectives are continuing investigations in the matter.
In expressing his condolences to the relatives and friends of the victims of yesterday’s fire, MESA chairman Grantley Osbourne called for parents to engage in serious introspection and for the legal system to take a more balanced view in domestic controversies involving children.
Osbourne noted that “MESA was unaware of the existing problems surrounding the family, and is somewhat surprised that the National Organisation of Women (NOW) was aware; therefore the mother most likely approached NOW for assistance, while the father did not seek any help from MESA”.
Osbourne said this was yet another indication that men were reluctant to discuss their problems.
But Osbourne complained that attempts to vent men’s concerns about visitation and custody to the Attorney General were thwarted by an absence of support from men themselves.
“Recently, we invited the Attorney General to one of our monthly meetings, and we invited men who had been having problems in terms of not being allowed to see their children or have custody of them were invited to attend this meeting and share their views with the Attorney General on this matter. However, only one man responded.”
Osbourne noted, however, that his organisation was working towards developing a healthy rapport with NOW, stating that NOW had invited him to its bi-annual general meeting in May this year, “which was the first time any Chairman of MESA had been invited to any of NOW’s activities.” He said at that same meeting, he expressed his concern about “certain relationships between men (fathers) and women (mothers) which were very detrimental.”
He recalled that he has often encouraged men to be responsible and perform their duties as fathers, and has urged the women’s groups on the island to encourage women to allow fathers to see their children and not to use the children as pawns, since “in the final analysis the children are the losers”.