Mother's identity "insufficient" for child's birth registration
KATHMANDU, Aug 6: Without producing citizenship of their husbands, Nepali women not only cannot transfer citizenship to their children but even the babies´ birth registration is straight away denied by the authorities, depriving such children of several legal rights.
Birth, death, marriage, divorce and migration is registered under personal events act. Although the act doesn´t clearly state that birth cannot be registered until and unless both the mothers and fathers are Nepalis or the father´s identity is not produced, the birth registration form and the certificate in use clearly seeks information of not just the father but also of grandfather and the great-grandfather of the child.
And the local officers in general show reluctance to challenge the existing format, depriving children whose father is either foreigner or not willing to cooperate of the birth registration certificate.
“It should not have been such a complex process for birth registration. But on the other hand, how can you prove the identity of the child until and unless the father´s identity is produced? Why can´t a woman tell who her husband is?” said Ram Dutta Chaulagain, the VDC secretary in a sarcastic tone. “The problem is we need to mention the citizenship number of the father. You see the format of the form, information of three generation of the child has been asked,” he added.
The attitude of government employees at Naikap, Naya Bhanjhyang VDC nearby is not different either. “Mother´s citizenship number does not work. We need the one of the father. Our society is patriarchal and so is this form you see,” said Siri Thapa, the office assistant.
Birth certificate was not considered an important document until a few years ago even though the act was introduced in 1976. But with a growing number of people going abroad and the need to include the certificate in their documents, the VDCs and municipalities issued plenty of them in the later years.
But for children without a birth certificate, they are unlikely to get admission in the school of her or his choice. They also face problems while traveling mainly via air. Similarly, without the certificate children of the Dalit community who are entitled to get Rs 200 monthly allowance from the government cannot claim it. They are also denied other welfare packages for the target groups.
"My son is already 3 years old. I didn´t know about birth registration until one of my neighbors recently told me about it. However, they say it cannot be done in my case," said Deepa BK, 25, whose son too would be entitled to Rs 2,400 per year had he been provided the certificate. "He (the child´s father) left us after one year of marriage and I have been raising the boy on my own. But they say the father´s citizenship is necessary for birth registration and later for his citizenship," added the utterly disappointed mother.
BK, a local of Tinthana, Kathmandu, was told by the employees in Tinthana VDC that they understood her problem but they were helpless.
The young lady had fellen in love with an Indian national from Darjeeling four years ago, and had the baby the same year they tied the knot. However, differences grew between the couple and the man literally stopped visiting his family. "I decided to do without him, but I have been taken aback that my child has no legal rights here," BK said.
According to a human right activist and advocate Meera Dhungana, this is a clear example of how the state has been treating women. “The lawmakers and its enactors are yet to come out of the mentality that the male is the supreme and the female is his subordinate,” she said.
“In case of birth certificate any child born in the country is entitled to get it. The law does not say there needs to be the father´s citizenship number. However, the reason for the current the format of the birth certificate is because the work force in the government sector has failed to see woman´s separate existence. And thousands of women and children are bound to suffer due to this,” she added.
Meanwhile, Dinesh Thapaliya, spokesperson at the local development ministry said that the format would be corrected soon. “We encourage birth registration. I do not think the mothers are denied such registration everywhere. However, we will look into the matter,” he said.