Badi women continue to be deprived of citizenship

Kathmandu, May 31

Although women from the Badi community no longer continue their traditional occupation as sex workers, children born to them continue to be deprived of birth and citizenship certificates.

Mina Nepali from Tulsipur, Dang, said she had to struggle for 22 years to acquire citizenship. Nepali married Bishnu Bahadur Lama at the age of 14 years, but her husband left her soon. “There are many women in our community who have children born out of relationship with so-called high caste people, but no one speaks for their rights,” she said, adding that although she acquired citizenship through her parents, her sons couldn’t obtain citizenship through her name.

Duja Nepali, 24, of Dang shares similar plight. Four of her children have not been granted citizenship although they have been frequenting the District Administration Office regularly for the last five years.

Her husband is an Indian national, who has been living with her after marriage. However, she could not obtain citizenship through her husband’s name. She tried to obtain citizenship through her parents name, but her request was turned down as she was married to a foreign national.

Though one can obtain citizenship through his/her mother’s name, she was identified as an individual whose father was unidentified. “It is very humiliating to acquire citizenship, which says the father of the person bearing it is unidentified,” shares Deepti Gurung, president of Citizenship Affected People’s Network. “This can seriously impact a person for his/her entire life,” she added.

“If an individual applies for citizenship through his/her mother’s name, citizenship should be granted without mentioning the father’s identity. Though the constitution has the provision of acquiring citizenship through mother’s name, it has not been implemented in practice,” said Gurung.

Advocate Sushma Gautam informed that many children were being deprived of education due to lack of birth certificate.