Who is a Nepali?
Photo Courtesy: Aljazeera The draft provision in the constituent assembly states that both the parents of the child have to be a Nepali citizen for the child to attain a Nepali citizenship. Meaning, the father has to be known, which in cases of rape is almost always impossible. This law is biased towards single mothers as well.
According to the current law, The Citizenship Act of 2006, a person can attain a citizenship if his/her mother is a Nepali citizen. But if the new law is implemented it can cause a lot of problems for children born out of wedlock, children of separated mothers and children of refugee fathers. In Nepal where a major number of marriages are unregistered the new law can complicate the citizenship process for children of women who are separated from their husbands. In many cases the father of the person who may be separated from the mother may refuse to assist the person for citizenship. The children born out of wedlock may also be victims of the proposed law. This law is discriminatory against women.
Even the current law is biased against women. The current law does not grant citizenship to children or husband of women married to men of foreign citizenry whereas women married to Nepali men can easily get Nepali citizenship. According to Forum for Women, Law and Development (FWLD) more than four million children born to single mothers have been denied citizenship.
The FWLD won a landmark case in 2011 in the Supreme Court through which Sabina Dhami, daughter of a Nepali woman and an unidentified father was granted Nepali citizenship. But the verdict has made no impact on other similar cases or the Nepali constitution.
Even in the current law, single mothers are discriminated against and looked down upon by many of the government officials. The patriarchal mentality of the traditional Nepali society has seeped into our constitution and government. These types of laws should be abolished for Nepal to take a step towards gender equality.