It was said in Parliament today by DPM Tharman that “Parenting benefits for working mums apply within the context of marriage“.
I find this utterly distasteful and harmfully discriminating.
The DPM did say that support is given in areas of childcare, healthcare and education to children “regardless of their parents’ marital status”, including being extended to single mothers.
However there are three policies that that was contained in this report:
a.) Single mothers do not qualify for Working Mother’s Child Relief (this is a tax relief)
b.) Single mothers do not qualify for Maid relief (this is a discount from the maid levy)
c.) Single mothers are not allowed to apply directly to the HDB to buy subsidised flats
The reason quoted is this: “to reflect the prevailing societal norm where marriage is the first step towards family formation”.
I am not liking how the argument is being approached. Indeed marriage is the first step towards family formation, but that is no reason for the government not to assist where such family formation fails.
Worse, society might read the policies as a punishment on single mothers.
It is a matter of fact single mothers have as much need for these reliefs as a married mother does. She has only herself and her earning power to rely on. Some have even been estranged from their family because of this situation, that she has no one to turn to for help.
If the government is worried that by extending the same policies to single mothers would bring about more single motherhood, then I would say with confidence that this is nothing to fear. It is not reasonable to think that a woman would intentionally want to be single, it is against a woman’s nature.
In fact, the benefits outweigh the unrealistic fears. By extending these policies, you are helping to reduce suicides, crime, delinquent children and you will be providing a small bit of relief from the harshness of single parenthood.
Regardless of economic status, a mother is a mother is a mother. And I’d like to point out from Malcom Gladwell’s “Freakonomics” – that a woman would rather go through painful decisions of abortion than to give birth to a child she feels she is not ready for.
I hope the government would reconsider this discriminating policy.
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