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Birth certificates and fathers’ details

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There would seem to be a difference between what the law states about children born out of wedlock and what is carried out administratively. Might it be a case of administrators punishing those who do not comply with society’s apparent moral code of conduct, wonders Ms Batik.


Lately a lot has been said about unwed mothers and children born out of wedlock. According to a recent article (NST, 3 July 2010 ‘List all info on kids’ birth certs, unwed mums advised’) 247,000 births were registered between 2000 and July 2008 without one parent being named (National Registration Department (NRD) Statistics).  In most cases one would assume it is the father’s details that are missing. This, according to the article, translates into approximately 2,500 babies born out of wedlock monthly or around 84 cases daily.
According to the article, there are two instances where a father’s name will not be listed on the birth certificate: “The first is if the child is born to parents who are not legally married (for Muslims, this includes children born within six months from the date of the marriage ceremony). The second instance applies when the parents are unable to present a valid marriage certificate. But the father’s particulars may be registered later after obtaining a marriage endorsement from the Religious Department.”

One has to ask at this point since when has the presence of a marriage certificate been the prerequisite for the inclusion of the father’s particulars on a birth certificate? There was a time in this country, when a couple could just go to a police station or the NRD and register the birth of their child. The couple’s acknowledgement that the child was theirs and the details on their identity cards were sufficient for a birth certificate to be issued with both parents’ particulars included. There was no need to produce a marriage certificate.

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Under the Births and Deaths Registration Act 1957, Section 13 Provisions as to father of illegitimate child  “… in the case of an illegitimate child, no person shall as father of the child be required to give information concerning the birth of the child, and the Registrar shall not enter in the register the name of any person as father of the child except at the joint request of the mother and the person acknowledging himself to be the father of the child, and that person shall in that case, sign the register together with the mother.”

There would seem to be a difference between what the law states and what is carried out administratively. Might it be a case of administrators punishing those who do not comply with society’s apparent moral code of conduct?  Custodians of society’s morality, however well meaning, cannot and must not subject people to what is not required by the law.  For those in such predicaments, surely life does not have to be made harder for them than it already is.

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