Fathers are pillars of families too

Fathers are increasingly playing an important role in the family.

So, it was disappointing that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said that mothers were the "pillars" of our families (Flowers from PM to mark occasion; May 15), implying that fathers play a less significant role in the family.

This unconscious bias in gender roles is common among Singaporeans. It keeps alive the notion that a woman's primary role is in the home and her contribution to the wider society is secondary.

But more importantly, this unconscious bias has resulted in institutionalised discrimination against men.

Recent changes to spousal maintenance laws allows only disabled men to claim maintenance. Able-bodied men who, by choice or circumstances, stayed home to look after the family are ignored.

Spousal maintenance laws must be flexible enough to satisfy the needs of the different parties involved.

Fathers are increasingly becoming co-pillars of our families. With Father's Day coming up this Sunday, it is time for our spousal maintenance laws to reflect their changing roles in the family.

Sulthan Niaz