Citizenship law discriminatory against women

Mudita Bajracharya

Kathmandu, June 23:

Discriminatory legal system which denies issuance of citizenship to children on the basis of mother’s citizenship has deprived hundreds of thousands of Nepalis of their citizenship certificates. “Citizenship is the fundamental right of every human being,” said Sapana Pradhan Malla, president of Forum for Women, Law and Development (FWLD). “A mother gives birth to children, but depriving women of acquiring their children’s citizenships on the basis of their citizenships is violation of human rights,” she said. According to a recent survey conducted by FWLD in three districts regarding the citizenship, 43.75 per cent have been facing problems due to administrative and procedural hassles. Tulasa Lata Amatya, president of Community Action Care-Nepal, has been fighting to get her citizenship to her daughters from the past nine years. “We have been living here for the past 24 years but the state has denied citizenship certificates for my children because I am married to a Dutch,” she said. She said her nine-year-long struggle to get the citizenship issued has not helped.

The 2047 Constitution and the Nepal Citizenship Act-2020 have provisions, among others, of issuing the citizenship to those whose father is a Nepali, but the Nepal Citizenship Act-2009 and Constitution 2019 had provisions of issuing citizenship to a child born either to a Nepali father or a Nepali mother. However, the issue of not getting citizenship on the basis of a Nepali mother’s citizenship is not only the one problem associated with women. Actress Mausami Malla wants to get her citizenship amended by removing the name of her former husband. “We have been divorced for a long time, but my citizenship still has his name as my husband because my citizenship was issued on the basis of his citizenship,” she said. “The solution to problems like these lies in the amendment of the Constitution, but the complications can be reduced at the administrative level,” Malla said. “The government is well aware of the problems regarding the citizenship issue and is positive towards solving them,” said Shyam Sundar Sharma, spokesperson of the ministry.