The issue of paternity is one that many fathers have secretly pondered the world over for aeons and aeons. Thing is, in the past, before DNA tests, there was no way for a man to know for sure if a child was truly his.
A well-worn phrase explains this dilemma:
Maternity is a matter of fact, whereas paternity is a matter of opinion.
The common test done in the past was whether the child looked like the father did. And that was never full-proof as statements like "he has your father's nose", or "she has my mother's eyes", were used to diffuse any suspicion.
But the discovery of DNA in the 1950's opened a door to many mysteries hitherto unfathomable. Like;
-Disease Diagnosis and Treatment
-Helping in forensics
-Paternity and Legal Impact.
qqsxzA recent story that occurred in the U.K Illustrated the value of DNA and had many Kenyans in shock.
Why? A "father" of 3 sons found out that he had not sired any of them! You can read the painful account here:
Data from our previous colonial rulers, the U.K reveals a disturbing trend. That the case above was not isolated.
A firm called Testing firm DNA Clinics, analysed 5,000 results selected randomly from between January 2014 and June 2016 and found that almost half of UK men who took a paternity test turned out not to be the real father.
This made me want to investigate whether this is a common occurrence in Kenya. Since 1999, the Government Chemist has been undertaking paternity tests.
Requests from the children’s court and organization such as FIDA, in child maintenance and care cases where the man disputes paternity, form the main sources of disputes being handled by the Chemist.
What did the data in Kenya say? Previous research conducted by the government chemist indicated that up to fifty(50%) percent of Kenyan men who go for paternity testing at the Government Chemist turn out not to be the real fathers of the children they have invested in both emotionally and financially.
Research done by the Chemist pointed out that:
The trend we are registering here is that 50 percent of those who seek paternity tests turn out to be real fathers and the rest are not.
We called and spoke to one of the doctors working at easyDNA, another private DNA testing company located at KMA plaza in Upper Hill. The doctor is a pathologist by specialty and has a lot of experience in the health industry.
The doctor was concise and gave me answers to all the questions I had. My first question was what the rate how high the rate of paternity fraud was?
His answer was that of the cases he tested, the results came back with 30% of the "fathers" tested not being the biological fathers.
What motivated most of the men who came to test?
60% fathers come to test because of the suspicion that they aren't the fathers. The other 40% are there because they have been compelled to pay child support and they want to make sure the child is indeed theirs.
This confirms a previous statement by Mrs. Jane Okado, a Chief Government Chemist who was once quoted as saying:
"Sometimes when a couple is quarreling, and the woman in an attempt to hurt the man, tells him he is not even the father of the children. This statement leaves the man devastated, with the only option being a paternity test to establish if indeed he is the real father of the children he considers dear to him.”
I also asked the doctor whether women ever come to do the test?
Yes, they do. 80% of the women who come with their men are sure that the men are the fathers. The other 20% have their doubts. These other 20% normally try to get the tests done using a sample of the man's DNA without him finding out.
According to a report by African Woman and Child Feature Service, men rush for the tests if they suspect their wife is having an affair or if one of the children is obviously not theirs.
Interestingly, in most of the paternity cases at EasyDNA, women are more willing to collect the results than men.
I then proceeded to ask the pathologist how much does a test costs in his clinic?
A test is 24,000 shillings for one paternity test. But there is another test that can be done if when a woman is still pregnant. It is normally done by "slay queens" and it costs 180,000 shillings. We only did 4-5 of those last year.
The doctor who has seen it all as pertains paternity said the cost of a test at easy DNA was Sh24,000 for one paternity test.
This includes testing of alleged father and one child. Further people can be included in the test for a small added costs.
Why would a lady do such an invasive procedure on her unborn fetus?
Because many of these slay queens are date white and black men at the same time. They want to ascertain that before they give birth they are sure who the father is.
"We can carry out paternity DNA analysis with or without the mother's DNA sample. Even without the sample of the mother, we provide a result with a probability of paternity above 99.9 percent. If the mother is included the paternity test result will have an accuracy of over 99.99 percent."
The doctor has handled many cases and I asked him what was his advice to men who came seeking his help?
The first thing I tell men who have suspicions that a child might not be theirs is to not take the test. The reason is that I have seen how much these tests can harm a man. But i am still here to make money, so if they insist, i do the test!
I also asked the doctor what happened with the men who found out that the kid they were raising was n't theirs and how did the knowledge affect their marriages? His response was pragmatic and to the fact:
Some men stay with the family because they already have other children together but the marriage is never the same.
The troubling issue of doubts regarding paternity where put on full display a few years back when the Naivasha road tragedy took place.
Most of the 43 people who people who died that day were burnt beyond recognition. Fathers, mothers and siblings rushed to present DNA samples. But the state bypassed fathers and was only testing DNA from mothers, brothers and sisters to identify remains.
Why? Mothers' DNA is most reliable and avoids the possibility women have borne children to men they have not married — and not told the truth.
The government pathologist at the time gave the Star the reason for the decision. He said:
The only person you are certain of is the mother unless the child was swapped at the hospital. And there is the factor of men raising children they have not sired, which is not isolated to Kenya. It happens the world over.
The lead pathologist also added that mothers' DNA extracts guarantee higher accuracy than fathers' in such types of situations.
Kenya has more than 20 well-known DNA testing centres, mostly private clinics in Nairobi and large private hospitals.
The government chemist charges Sh5,500 per person, Sh10,000 for one parent and one child. The cheapest private provider charges Sh20,000, with results in two days. It may take five to 10 working days for complex cases.
According to the Bioinformatics Institute of Kenya, another DNA testing company in Embakasi, a 26-marker test costs Sh10,000 per person, a total of Sh20,000 for alleged father and one child.
The test is based on the fact that 50 per cent of a child’s DNA is inherited from the father and 50 per cent from the mother. Most DNA samples are collected using oral swabs, which are quick and easy to use.
A fee of Ksh 5,000 is charged for each sample, meaning in the case of the three people a total of Ksh 15,000 is required. This amount increases depending on the number of children involved in the paternity dispute.