Despite opposition from the ruling Reform Party, Parliament voted to ask the government to approve a bill to create a state-funded alimony fund which would take off financial pressure from single parents whose partners refuse to pay alimony.
Only nine MPs voted against, with 61 supporting the bill in Parliament. Deputy head of the Social Affairs Committee, Margus Tsahkna, said the fund would not be an additional benefit system, but would guarantee children the financial aid they are entitled to by law.
If passed, the fund would pay out the minimum alimony, currently at 195 euros per month, to single parents and in return demand that sum from the deadbeat parents.
Laine Randjärv, Reform Party MP, said that they decided not to hold party discipline in today's vote.
Kaarel Veike, head of an NGO working to help single parents, said that there are 41,000 single parents, 91 percent women, with 56,000 underage children in Estonia, and 9,000 parents have alimony debt. He said the problem has escalated in the past decade in Estonia and the fund would be of great help.
Center Party MP Viktor Vassiljev, who practiced medicine for 20 years before becoming a politician, said that women should have the possibility to get irresponsible men tested before marriage. “But if she still marries an irresponsible man and bears a great number of children with that man – in my opinion she should be punished by law. Authorities should intervene in full force and sterilize these women,” he said in front of Parliament during the debate on the bill.
He later apologized for the outburst, saying that women who are bringing up a child are not at fault for choosing a man who is unable to pay child support. Vassiljev then said that the current situation is the fault of the party which has been in power for the past 15 years (the Reform Party) and his party, the Center Party, has always backed the creation of such a fund.
Editor: J.M. Laats