Scottish social workers have banned 17-year-old Kerry Robertson from marrying her fiance, 25-year-old Mark McDougall, stating they believe Robertson lacks the mental capacity to truly understand marriage. So where were they when she became pregnant five months ago?
According to the Daily Mail, Robertson, who has "mild learning difficulties," began dating McDougall in January, much to the delight of social workers, who, according to McDougall, "were pleased we were together and seemed supportive." Two days before the couple's wedding, however, social workers showed up at Robertson's door and told her she was not allowed to marry, as she "did not possess the capacity to make such a decision."
Robertson, who struggles academically but "is nowhere near as stupid as social services are making out," according to her fiance, is understandably devastated by the ruling, telling the Daily Mail that she is fully aware of the implications of marriage, and doesn't understand why social workers suddenly turned on her: "I am still so upset about everything," she says, "I know what marriage is. It is when two folks want to spend the rest of their lives together. I love Mark and I want to get married to him."
Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of this story is that Robertson is currently 5 months pregnant; she and McDougall got engaged once they learned of the pregnancy because they wanted to raise their child as a married couple. "But despite arguing with the social workers that we loved one another and didn't want our baby to be born to unmarried parents, they wouldn't budge," McDougall says.
One wonders how long the social workers have known of Robertson's pregnancy; if she's "not intelligent enough" to get married, why have they remained relatively silent on the fact that she's going to be someone's mother in four months? The sudden turn around on the part of social workers, in terms of Robertson's relationship with McDougall, raises a few flags: the couple now worries that they'll lose their baby as well, and its not hard to see why: if Robertson can't convince them that she's responsible enough to make her own decisions regarding marriage, it's highly unlikely that they'll believe she's responsible enough to raise a child, especially if she's an unmarried 17-year-old mother.
It's hard to really have a full understanding of this story with so few details, but it does bring up many questions, specifically if superior intelligence is necessary to understand the concepts of love and marriage. Kerry Robertson may not be as smart as her peers, but does that mean she doesn't have the right to fall in love and want to spend the rest of her life with someone? And why weren't social workers knocking on her door five months ago, when McDougall and Robertson decided to marry and raise a child together? Why did they wait until two days before the wedding to deem her unfit for marriage?
In the end, one wishes that instead of taking everything away from Robertson, social services would make more of an effort to guide the couple through their marriage and the birth of their child. If they're really looking out for her best interest, they might want to start by actually listening to what she's saying.
'You're Not Intelligent Enough To Marry,' Bride Told [Daily Mail]