A FEW years back, different quarters praised the government for introducing mother's name alongside father's in the passport form of children. This provision has given women the right to guardianship of their children officially. The provision was really appreciable as, through this, the government was also able to change the traditional system of the society which recognised the father always as the legal guardian. I believe that for the successful implementation of the provision, different renowned schools now allow mothers to complete admission procedures of children as guardians.
But recently, I found that the passport office does not allow the mothers to sign as the guardian in the passport form of the minor aged children. But the instruction materials clearly mention that anyone either the mother or the father or the legal guardian must sign on the form in the case of separate passport for a minor boy or girl. When I bought the point to the notice of the officials concerned, they did not agree. They said the mother could only sign when the father is dead. But there is no such advice in the instruction materials. I tried to argue on that point but refrained from it only to avoid any harassment in getting my passport in time.
But I took the opportunity to write on this matter in this paper, because, I believe, this provision is being interpreted without any thought by the authorities concerned. I do not want to go on academic argument why women's guardianship was not accepted in the past. But women's guardianship at that stage might have been vulnerable in many cases. Majority rural women were illiterate and they themselves remained under the guardianship of men. Even women who were literate and living in towns did not have the confidence in dealing under some situations as guardians in the past.
But the atmosphere has now changed. Women have proved their ability in many sectors. Their capacity to run or contribute to a family, participate in the society and maintain offices properly are enough for them to get the right to guardianship. Should not the official concerned recognise that women's eligibility to be guardian is acceptable when the father remains out of the town or the country and mother has to get her kid's passport immediately. Children's mobility nowadays has also increased due to different national and international programmes and increase in overseas jobs of parents. The particular official's comment reminds me how the thought process of a patriarchal society creates obstruction to implementing government decision. The concerned department should think about it.
A passport applicant