It has taken almost four years for Vimbai Mutasa to trace her biological father.
Although she was raised by her mother who was happily married to her step father, where all her siblings were given unconditional love, she was constantly haunted by the need to know her biological father.
“I started having weird dreams of a certain man when I was in Grade Two. The dreams bothered me for a very long time until I confronted my mother who on several occasions brushed the matter aside.
“As years went by, I got married when my mother eventually broke her silence and told me that the man that I had known as my father was not in fact my biological father,” Vimbai said.
Recently, media reports stated that more than 70% of men were raising children that are not theirs.
Although analysts maintain that the figure could be an exaggeration, the report gives room for conclusion that many people are being reckless with their lives in terms of having unprotected sex with multiple partners.
Infertility on the part of the man could also raise such problems as women engage in extra marital affairs in order to fall pregnant and allow their spouses to raise the subsequent child.
“In this era of the HIV and AIDS pandemic people must be conscious of their health and act responsibly when it comes to having protected sex outside marriage because many of these men who end up at the maintenance court are married,” said Harare-based social worker Vincent Tafirenyika.
Traditionalists maintain that a child is everyone’s responsibility and the practice is centuries old adding that the men who take care of other men’s children are highly blessed by the ancestors since a child is an innocent being that needs love, care and attention.
Seventy-six year old Mbuya Hatimire of Mufakose further maintains that there is nothing wrong with allowing another man to raise such a child for as long as there is mutual consent between the parties concerned.
“There is nothing wrong with a man taking care of another man’s child as long as there is a mutual consent, but ancestors must be notified. People must understand that a lot of things happen in the love cycle and at the same time there is a thin line between love and hate, but the child born out of such a circumstance must not suffer. At the same time, it is everyone’s child,” Hatimire said.
However, others believe that due to the high levels of infidelity, many single mothers are reluctant to reveal the identity of the children’s fathers for various reasons.
A traditionalist, Sekuru Gombera of Budiriro believes that women have become too greedy to the extent of tricking men into paying maintenance for the upkeep of other men’s child.
“It can be referred to as the signs of the changing times where women claim maintenance from various men in her sexual network. But in this era of the deadly pandemic, both men and women should be careful about their sexual lifestyles,” Sekuru Gombera said.
There are also incidents where women lie to their infertile spouses who then raise children sired by other people. This is usually done as a desperate measure to stabilise a marriage.
“Other women in the case of being barren go through difficult situations to save their crumbling marriages. Under such circumstances many women eventually fall pregnant outside the marital bed, resulting in their spouses raising children that are not theirs,” Sekuru Gombera added.
Given the secretive nature of infidelity, exact figures about cheating and extra-marital affairs are nearly impossible to establish.
Many children are born out of infidelity
A recent research shows that 2 to 3% of all children are a product of infidelity. And most of these children are unknowingly raised by men who are not their biological fathers.
Truth About Deception an Internet website says it is estimated that between 30 to 60% of all married individuals will engage in infidelity at some point during their marriage and these numbers are probably on the conservative side, when you consider that close to half of all marriages end in divorce (people are more likely to stray as relationships fall apart. This research consistently shows that 2 to 3% of all children are the product of infidelity in United States of America.
And most of these children are unknowingly raised by men who are not their biological fathers. DNA testing is finally making it easy for people to check the paternity of their children.
A Zimbabwean aviation worker wept at the High Court several years ago when he discovered that “his eldest” son whom he had raised from infancy was actually not his. He had been alerted about his wife’s infidelity whilst he was working abroad and he had assumed that the second child was not his and decided to take both children for a paternity test. When results came, it was proved that the first child was actually not his. That really shattered him and he broke down in court. But he acknowledges that he had a strong bond with this boy and that he sometimes tries to cheer him up like he always did.
“The child is not the problem . . . his mother cheated on me,” said the man who has since remarried.
Infidelity is becoming more common among people under the age of 30. Many experts believe this increase in cheating is due to greater opportunity (time spent away from a spouse) and young people developing the habit of having multiple sexual partners before they get married.
Men are more likely to cheat than women. But, as women become more financially independent, they are starting to act more like men with respect to infidelity.
In many cases, without a paternity test, infidelity never gets discovered.