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The census

1. březen 2001  | Jan Haverkamp
There are many reasons for me not to want to participate in the national census on February 28. Yesterday we received the census forms. And they make interesting reading. Not the least from a pro-feminist point of view...

There are many reasons for me not to want to participate in the national census on February 28. I find a compulsory questioning of citizens like this - with a Kc 10.000 punishment if you don’t co-operate - a strong infringement on my privacy. A nation wide questioning furthermore shows a clear lack of statistical research competence of the responsible Statistic Office, which should know that involuntary questioning leads to wrong answers, as well as the fact that normal empirical statistical methods will give the same quality or better results with less effort - voluntary and anonymously. The fact that the data should be accompanied by name and registration number is already criticized by the National Office for the Protection of Personal Data, but for me as civil activist opposing the mafia surrounding the Temelín nuclear power plant it could be a threat to my working situation when certain information would fall into the wrong hands. Not that I have anything to hide - but right information in the wrong hands sometimes is used for purposes of intimidation. Too many people in this country already experienced that such things still happen.

Yesterday we received the census forms. And they make interesting reading. Not the least from a pro-feminist point of view. A minor curiosity is the fact, that women who have extra-marital children are more or less expected to fill in under the eyes of their husbands, that they have a child - but the child is not from their husband. I wonder whether the Statistical Office really expects honest answers in this situation...

But there is also a more profound ideological aberration: the relation between father and children is in the questionnaires completely denied. Yes, it is an improvement to notice that children are not only the children of their father, like it was perceived several decades ago. I suppose the Statistical Office thought itself wonderfully progressive and feminist to link children with their mothers. But to deny any role of the father shows that the Office has not understood the basics of feminism. The feminist movement is not trying to get mothers and women completely out of caring roles. It tries to get men (and of course especially fathers) more strongly involved in caring roles. Therefore, men, fathers, should rediscovered their real role in their relations towards children and women. They should open their eyes and souls for the fact that that not only means (partial) financial responsibility, but also responsibility for caring, for education, short: for really living together. The least that is needed, is that also fathers have to acknowledge that they have children...

One of the more comical results of this gender blindness of the Statistical Office is the fact that it missed an important new law that enables fathers in this country also to take (part of the) maternity leave to care for their young children – thus improving the possibilities for women to pursue their careers, but also enabling men to fully participate and experience the value of caring. In the census, only women can fill in that they are on maternity leave. What should this male friend of mine fill in, who took up the complete paternity leave instead of his partner? "Unemployed"? "No job"? An interesting déja vu.

Jan Haverkamp is of Dutch origin and immigrated into the Czech Republic in 1997. He worked as organizational development specialist for Central and Eastern European environmental organizations and is currently Greenpeace anti-nuclear campaigner for Central Europe. He lives with his partner and daughter in Cvrcovice near Kladno and has a son in the Netherlands.

Názory z druhé strany - Thought from the other side

 In this weekly column, pro-feminist men - men that are strongly influenced by the feminist movement - write their observations in daily life on the role of men and women in the Czech Republic.

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