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Should Paternity Tests Be Mandatory?

The good and the bad

BY Agnes Amondi

Jan 16, 2023, 03:13 PM

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A few days ago, social media went crazy after former nominated senator Millicent Omanga tweeted about the availability of a DNA home testing kit for only Ksh 800. The general perception amongst the respondents of her tweet indicated that men would be in favour of this whilst women would be left in a bad place.

However, the excitement was tamed after the Pharmacy and Poisons Board quashed the rumour and stated that it hasn’t authorised the availability of a DNA home test kit.  

That said, the possibility of having such a tool opens the door for other conversations to be had and questions to be asked. And we are posing one for you today. Should women be mandated to declare the paternity of the baby?    

What The Numbers Show

Before we flesh out our perspective, here’s what the statistics show. According to online data, half of the paternity tests return a negative result which means that there’s a 50-50 chance that the child you are raising with your partner is not his.

60% of men resort to doing paternity testing because they are suspicious of the child’s parentage and 40% say that they want to ensure the child is his before they start paying for child support.   

At this point, you might be asking whether women go for these tests. Yes, they do and from what we’ve found out, 80% of women who do them are certain that they are being raised by their biological fathers while 20% are uncertain and are likely to do the test behind their partner's back.

With such statistics, should paternity testing be mandatory? Here's my take on the upside and downside of it. Let's start with the downsides.

Complexity Of The Issue

Since the story of the DNA Home test kit came up, I have listened to a couple of experts and read quite a bit on the matter. Doing a DNA test is not the same as doing a pregnancy test

It is a complicated procedure that requires an expert and a number of things to go right to ensure that the test is successful and the results have no errors. Additionally, there’s a big number of babies being born every day which makes it difficult to do it for every woman who’s given birth.

Shaming Women

Mandatory paternity testing will mean that women’s sexual choices are heavily analysed. In this day and age of social media, you just never know whose results might sneak their way online.

Remember the woman who was exposed after her husband caught her cheating? Wrong as it was, the situation was handled badly and later on, she died by suicide. This is not what we want and it’s not a solution to such cases.  

Don’t Fix What’s Not Broken

If a man is unknowingly raising kids who are not biologically his, and the family is happy, should you try and destabilise the situation by taking a paternity test? Whilst it is not ethical to keep this a secret, the loss and damage that might ensue is far much worse than maintaining the situation as is. 

Right To Choose

There’s always some sought of tension whenever talks of government getting into people’s bedrooms or even regulating their reproductive rights crop up. No one wants to be on the receiving end of such a situation. 

Thus, when it comes to DNA testing, it is highly unlikely for the government to mandate testing as it may take away people’s right to choose. It is best if this decision is left to couples to decide whether they need it or not. 

Let's Now Look At The Upside


The fact that there is a 50-50 chance that a baby is being raised by a social father demonstrated the lack of accountability. Additionally, men do not want to invest in a child that's not his which is why they seek paternity, especially whenever they are mandated to provide child support. 

In cases where the tests prove that the child is his, it only strengthens the family bond and eliminates doubts. Additionally, it helps women by affirming the identity of their children's fathers as some go to extreme lengths to deny their paternity. 

The Right To Know

Everyone deserves the right to know whose genes they are carrying. Even the child. It is better to know as early as possible and save people the trouble of raising other people's children. 

Peace of Mind

It offers someone peace of mind to know that they are investing in their own blood. And in case they are not, having the information allows them to make a conscious decision as to whether it's something they want to do or opt out of.

So many people have said that they stopped seeing a child whom they thought was theirs as their own the moment they realised it was not biologically theirs. If this is what it boils down to, why not find out from the get-go?

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