Drop 'humiliating' phrase from citizenship: Activists
KATHMANDU, Dec 22: When Sabina Damai of Dolakha district was issued citizenship through her mother´s name following the historic Supreme Court verdict in 2011, it was considered a great achievement against gender discrimination.
Though the citizenship guaranteed her basic rights, Damai´s happiness was short-lived when she realized that the card would bring her humiliation every time she looked at it, thanks to the description ´father not identified.´
Though the citizenship guaranteed her basic rights, the description mentioned in the card made Damai feel humiliated every time she produced it in front of others.
“Sabina was very disturbed about the description and she had told me that it was as good as not having any citizenship. The CDO agreed to erase it later upon our request,” said Meera Dhungana who had fought her case.
But sadly, many others are not as fortunate as Damai.
This problem has kept many needy individuals from acquiring citizenship through mother´s name, noted another advocate Sabin Shrestha who has been working with Forum for Women, Law and Development for long.
According to him, even though the state does not directly deny women the right to get citizenship issued for their children through theirs, very few have come forward to claim their right because of the extremely humiliating description in the certificate.
As per the latest record at the home ministry, 128 children have gotten citizenship through mother´s name so far.
“Post-conflict, there is a huge mass of people who want citizenship through mother´s identity. Still, why only very few have claimed it? Firstly, the local administrations are hesitant to issue citizenship through mother´s name. Next, even those chief district officers (CDOs) who are willing to provide it, they would mention that the individual´s father is not identified, which directly challenges the dignity of women and their children,” added Shrestha.
During a program held in the capital on Thursday, several women right activists, including Dhungana, Shrestha, former parliamentarian Sapana Malla Pradhan and member of the national women commission Monha Ansari demanded immediate correction on the use of the phrase and strict action against the CDOs who deny citizenship through mother´s name.
“Gender based discrimination regarding the issuance of citizenship is further evidenced by the ministry´s data that show only 72 percent of female in the country have obtained it against the 92 percent male,” said Ansari. “In our country, women are still treated as a part of the male, or as his subordinate. Women will continue to face discrimination until they are viewed as women, but not a person,” she added.
Speaking at the program, joint secretary at Home Ministry Bhola Shivakoti stated while the ministry has already issued circular to all district offices to provide citizenship through mother´s name, the issue of ´humiliating´ description would also be addressed promptly.
“We have realized that the description indeed is an attack against the dignity of the women and their children, we are committed to correct it as soon as possible,” he said.