President of Women, Law and Development Forum Mira Dhungana today urged the State Affairs and Good Governance Committee of the House of Representatives to remove the provision of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill that requires a woman to submit affidavit about her child’s father.
During a clause-wise discussion on the bill, Dhungana said there should be no discrimination between men and women.
The current bill requires that a woman who wants her child to acquire citizenship on the basis of her Nepali nationality should reveal the child’s father. Rights activists say that such a provision would subject women to humiliation in case a child was conceived due to rape or incest.
“Why does the citizenship bill force women to clarify about her child’s father?” Dhungana wondered.
A woman should have full authority over her children and it should be left to her to reveal or not to reveal the name of her child’s father.
She said applicants should be able to get citizenship by descent on the basis of their mother’s Nepali nationality without disclosing father’s name.
“Why can’t a Nepali woman married to a foreign man immediately ensure her husband Nepali citizenship as is the case with Nepali men married to foreign women?” she wondered.
President of Citizenship Affected People Network Deepti Gurung said the citizenship bill should be revised to enable mothers to transmit Nepali nationality to their children on the basis of their Nepali nationality without forcing them to clarify who the father of their children are.
She said sex workers and victims of rape and sexual assaults should be able to acquire citizenship for their children without naming their fathers.
She said if a woman, who has multiple sex partners, does not know who the father of her child is, then she should be allowed not to reveal the father of her child in her child’s citizenship application.
Gurung said if a child lost his/her parents or was abandoned by parents and if he/she lived with his/her close relatives, then the child should be allowed to obtain citizenship on the basis of the nationality of his/her caretaker.
She also said that street children and children staying at child centres should also be allowed to obtain citizenship.
Fifty lawmakers have registered 22 amendments to the citizenship bill, which was drafted by the Ministry of Home Affairs.
Chair of State Affairs and Good Governance Committee Shashi Shrestha said, no Nepali should be deprived of citizenship. She added, “This is just a beginning of discussion on the bill. We will first discuss the bill’s provisions with rights activists.”