Why have Father’s name on passports? Questioned a single mother, Maneka Gandhi listened
In light of the new appeal that Maneka Gandhi has made to amend the mandatory father’s name clause in the Indian passport, Shethepeople asked a few single mothers how they feel about this development. While a corporate woman wishing to remain anonymous shared her own plight at the passport office and how uncomfortable it made her feel, another one from a broken marriage stipulated the discussion around single unmarried mother. And one of those who fought for not getting the child’s father’s name in the passport couldn’t contain her happiness with this news.
When Maneka Gandhi appealed to Sushma Swaraj
Priyanka Gupta’s petition questioning the rule of having the father’s name mandatory on passports on Change.org elicited a reaction from Women & Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi. Taking up the matter, the minister made an official request to External Affairs minister Sushma Swaraj to consider amending this rule. Gandhi mentioned that in light of the fact that the number of single moms in the country is increasing due “conscious decision or break down of marriage”, this rule should be re-looked at.
It may be noted that the Delhi High Court has in a recent order also stated that a mother’s name is sufficient on the passport. The order came in response to a case wherein a single mother had appealed to the Court regarding re-issuance of her daughter’s passport minus the father’s name. “This court is of the view that mother’s name is sufficient in certain cases like the present one to apply for passport, especially as a single woman can be a natural guardian and also a parent,” said HC
How single mothers reacted to the move
“I am definitely in favour of not having the father’s name in the passport. More than doing anything, it puts every single mother in a very uncomfortable spot every time one goes to the passport office,” says Supriya* who works in an MNC.
From her own experience, she shares, “When the passport guy looks at your papers written ‘divorced’ in it, it is as if they are earmarked for a special process. One has to show all their original divorce papers not just to one person but to at least five to six persons. And since the papers have all kinds of financial details, it becomes so intimidating to show it to anyone. It doesn’t leave a single mother with very comfortable feeling.”
“While it should be hassle-free, it adds to the entire process,” adds Supriya further.
Anita Aggarwal who is also a single mother to a 23-year-old girl gave in to the passport officers’ demand because it was better than not having a passport for her daughter at all. However, she too welcomed the effort made by the WCD minister as she pointed out, “they should not pester on having the father’s name if the mother is giving all her documents. One more thing I want to point out here is that nowadays many young unmarried women are also adopting kids, it becomes even more rigorous a job for them to get a passport for their children as that is still a minority in the country.”
While being a single mother puts you at a disadvantage at the passport office, making the passport officer understand the legalities of a single unmarried mother definitely must be even more difficult.
Coming to Monika Shahi who is from Dehradun and got divorced in 2013 she said that it was during the same time that her daughter’s passport had expired. “When I started out with the procedure I wanted to change everything but then the hassles began with convincing the passport officer about the custody of my daughter. I did not want my ex-husband’s name to be there on my daughter’s passport but after one year of struggle the name still had to be included.”
“He left us when my daughter was only one and a half years old. My daughter does not even know the meaning of a father so why to include his name on such an important document. Though my daughter is not very old, she is only seven but mature enough to understand the situation so I am very happy that now she won’t have to see his name which makes her feel so uncomfortable,” summed up Shahi about her experience of getting a passport for her daughter.
It’s tough being a single mother in our country. And if rules like these can be relaxed, it will no doubt go a long way in making their lives easier.
Feature Image Credit: flexiboss.com