Marlon Bascombe is a young Trinidadian father who had the painful firsthand experience of a hospital policy which discriminates against fathers (and caregivers who aren’t parents).
He was not permitted to stay the night with his eleven month-old son. For dubious “security reasons” fathers can visit their children at the pediatric ward but mothers can stay with them for 24 hours. Bascombe’s literal stand against this policy resulted in the police being called in. The inhumanity of having to deal with the unthinking implementation of a discriminatory policy and the very real threat of arrest right at the moment when one is stressed and worried about the health of one’s child!
The Health Minister’s excuse for the policy was that that’s just the way it has always been. Well, now it’s time for change!
Caribbean feminists have highlighted that women do a disproportionate share of the caring work and that this often goes unrecognised. The hospital’s policy reinforces that women are the “natural” and primary caregivers. In the process it discounts men’s caring work and institutionalizes stereotypes about men as potential threats to children.
(That hospital visiting hours are often a source of pain for those whose relationships are not validated by society is, perhaps, another topic for another post. )
Bascombe appears to be the first person to challenge this anti-father hospital policy. He has also opened up dialogue about fathering in a very productive way. In standing up for his rights as a father and carer, he has stood up for all of us who care about gender justice.