Children of single mothers deprived of citizenship

  • Most kids with single parents are living with their mother

Kathmandu, February 6

Sabita (name changed), 19, was filled with joy at the prospect of acquiring citizenship when she  went to apply for citizenship at Ward No 4 office of Dakshinkali Municipality recently. She thought she would finally be able to enjoy the rights the constitution granted every citizen once she acquired citizenship.

However, her hopes were dashed when she was required to mention her father’s name in the application form. Sabita, who has been living with her single mother, is unaware of her father’s name or whereabouts.

Similarly, Santosh Chaudhari, 20, of Chitwan lost his father and mother when he was five years old. “I am a married man now. I have a daughter, but when I went to enrol her in a school, the school refused to admit her as I hadn’t acquired her birth certificate,” said Chaudhari, adding that he couldn’t obtain her daughter’s birth certificate as he doesn’t have citizenship certificate.

Tulsi Lata Amatya, 62, of Gattigauda shares a similar plight. “I married a foreigner and made him live with me in my own country. My husband has been living with me by extending his visa for so many years. I obtained my children’s birth certificate, but they have still not been able to obtain citizenship.”

She also added that although both she and her husband lived in Nepal, her children — two daughters and a son — chose the citizenship of the Netherlands. “I have also been unable to transfer ownership of my property to my children due to the contradictory laws of the country,” she added.

Sabita and Santosh are just representative of thousands of people, who have been denied citizenship by the state. According to Central Bureau of Statistics, every year nearly 700,000 children reach the age of 16 years when they are eligible to acquire citizenship.

However, only 400,000 children above the age of 16 years acquire citizenship, according to the Ministry of Home Affairs.

Likewise, one million children below the age of 16 years do not have both living parents. Of them, 900,000 children live with their mothers.

Sabin Shrestha, an advocate, said the majority of children with single parent were living with their mother.

“The citizenship provision in the constitution discriminates against women. Women have not been given equal rights as men. A mother cannot transfer citizenship to her children without disclosing the identity of her husband. This has deprived a lot of people of citizenship,” added Shrestha.