A single mother’s fight to get her daughter a passport without her husband’s name on it has received immense attention on social media lately. Thousands have come out to support her petition on Change.org. Comments on the petition from many of her supporters – including a large number of women – further highlight how deep the problem runs. Archaic rules, parochial mindsets and the misogynist approach of many officials in the passport offices operated by the Ministry of External Affairs continue to plague the system.
In her petition, signed by almost 1 lakh people, Priyanka Gupta said her husband abandoned her because she had a girl child. Now, her daughter says, “I don’t want the name of the man who abandoned us because I was a girl”.
A single mother from Delhi, Gupta, however, discovered that getting her daughter’s passport made without her former husband’s name was not an easy task. According to her, the passport office insisted that they include her husband’s name in the passport despite her daughter’s other identity documents like Aadhaar card, voter ID and bank accounts only citing Gupta as her parent.
“I am a single parent. My husband abandoned my daughter and me when she was born just because she was a girl. He never looked back and doesn’t even care whether we’re dead or alive. Recently, I applied for the passport of my daughter. My daughter doesn’t want her father’s name on the document. Our application was denied and we were told that both names are required,” the online petition reads.
On the legality of the issue, Gupta wrote, “The judiciary has given progressive judgments that say that the father’s name is not required.” She is not mistaken – as recently as May this year, the Delhi high court ruled that a mother’s name is sufficient on a passport as long as she is a single parent.
Since the passport office still insisting on putting her husband’s name on her daughter’s passport, Gupta has urged the prime minister and the Ministry of Home Affairs to look into this matter and help single parents – both fathers and mothers – “so that they don’t have to go through this agony”.
Her daughter, Garima, has also written a strong note in the petition stating. “To me, this petition is very important, because it’s for me only. I need my passport, it’s a necessity but I don’t want it with the name of a man who abandoned us because of my being a girl!” she wrote.
“I don’t understand why our passport department needs a father’s name even though he hasn’t even asked for any seeing rights! To him I am dead, and honestly, I don’t care about him either ……’’ she continued.
Stating that she has her voter’s identity card, Aadhaar card and class 10 and 12 certificates with her, all of which bear the name of her mother and not her father, she asked why it was essential to put his name on her passport.
The petition has drawn strong reactions from all over the country, with many women stating that they had encountered similar problems at passport offices.
The petition also got support from Women and Child welfare minister Maneka Gandhi and celebrities like Sona Mahapatra and Meghna Gulzar.Maneka Gandhi has assured that she will help out on the issue soon.
You can also lend your support to Priyanka Gupta, by signing the petition here.
By: Saket Sharma.