Discrimination against unmarried mothers

Active prejudice towards single mothers
Prejudicial treatment of unwed women with children
Legal discrimination against unmarried mothers exists in many countries. In some places unmarried mothers are denied legal recognition of their status as a parent. It is often difficult to legally establish the child's paternity, thus depriving the mother of any legal claim to assistance from the child's father.

Even more common is social ostracism of unmarried mothers. Because in most societies motherhood out of wedlock is seen as a threat to social structure, unwed mothers are viewed with distrust: they are rejecting the existing social hierarchy. Social discrimination may make it difficult for an unmarried mother to find employment, child care and housing. An unmarried mother is often obliged to raise her children alone, without the moral and financial support of the father. This increases her burden of responsibility, and, because of the demands on her time, contributes to her social exclusion. In extreme cases, social condemnation of unmarried motherhood may be so great that the murder of the unmarried mother by her brother or her father, in order to preserve the honour of the family, is condoned.

Formerly, in some countries, unmarried mothers could be imprisoned for several months for a first pregnancy and for life for a second.
In 1992 in the USA 24% of never-married women aged between 18 and 44 were also mothers.
Childbearing out of wedlock threatens the very foundations of society. Without clear lines of parentage, an individual's status is lost. He can no longer be sure to whom he is related, to whom he owes allegiance. He is cut off from a family structure and is forced into an individualism that leads to social anarchy and collapse.
1. Women are not the property of men. They have the right to exist independently, whether married or not. That more women are realizing this basic right is mirrored in an increase in the incidence of unmarried mothers. Women are learning they cannot and should not expect to stay home and be "kept". They are realizing they cannot and should not depend upon men for their social status or financial stability.

2. If women can support and raise children without the assistance of the father, then what is left for the father to do? As traditional roles are being questioned and inexorably altered by social changes, men are finding themselves without a role in child-rearing. Increasing unemployment makes it more difficult for them to maintain their role as breadwinners. The increasing independence of women makes it more difficult for men to see themselves as the figures of authority in a family. Men are not being taught how to be a different kind of father, and as yet they have no examples to follow.

3. So long as educational systems fail a high percentage of the population, people will be left with little that is rewarding to do besides have children. So long as young men are not given sufficient employment opportunities, they will never really become responsable adults and therefore never really be able to involve themselves significantly in parenting.

4. The problems faced by unmarried mothers affect millions of children since whatever contributes to the degradation of the position of unmarried mothers has an impact on their children, and on the well-being and future participation of those children in the development of society.

(D) Detailed problems