Nepal | January 24, 2020

Minors faking age to acquire passport for jobs abroad

Rewati Sapkota

Selang (Sindhupalchok) April 28

Dolma Tamang of Golche in Sindhupalchowk went to Dubai as a domestic worker in 2014 when she was just 14 years old. Although she was not eligible to acquire passport, she obtained her citizenship and passport claiming that she was 21 years old. Her actual age is now 18, but her documents state she is 25 years old.

As per the government rules and regulation, one should be at least 16 years old to acquire citizenship and passport. “I faked my age to acquire passport to go abroad,” she said and added that her family paid Rs15,000 bribe for the citizenship certificate and passport.

Although she went for employment to Dubai, Dolma returned home after 18 months without a penny. “I was humiliated by my employer and some fellow workers in Dubai. I was so angry that I beat them up and the government deported me following the incident,” she said. She is now staying in Baskharka with her mother who has six children from two marriages.

“I lost my father when I was six years old. My mother then married another guy,” she added.

Dolma went to her village in September 2015 but her house had been destroyed by earthquake. “I do not have a job here. My stepfather works as a labourer to feed us,” she said and added that family members called her Dilmaya, while her name in citizenship certificate is Dolma Tamang. She has yet another name Sabita Tamang, which is mentioned in her academic certificates.

“I am facing problem due to different names and ages in the citizenship and academic certificates,” she said. Dolma, an eighth grader, now wants to continue her studies, but due to her age in the citizenship certificate, she is shy of going to schools and joining classes again.

According to vice-chair of Jugal Rural Municipality Srijana Tamang, many people in the Himalayan villages had been faking their age to go abroad for foreign employment.

“A large number of boys and girls who are just 12 to 13 years old come here seeking recommendation for citizenship certificate and passport, stating they are 20 to 22 years old,” she said and added that ever since the local levels got elected representatives, they were discouraging the trend. Vice-chair Tamang told THT that ward chairs had been rejecting the applications of minors seeking to acquire citizenship.

According to Tamang some citizenship holders, who are not eligible for welfare fund, are also visiting the local levels seeking recommendation for duplicate citizenship certificate to claim state allowance.

According to Chief District Officer Asman Tamang, boys and girls aged 14 to 15 years of age were faking their age to obtain citizenship. “We are scrutinizing the applications and rejecting them when we find that people are falsifying details in their citizenship certificate applications,” he added.

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