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Birth certificates in mom’s name to be a norm



A newborn will be entitled to a birth certificate even if the mother decides not to disclose the identity of the child’s father once the draft of a bill is signed into law. This is one of the provisions included in the draft of the Bill on Right to Safe Motherhood and Reproductive Health registered in the Parliament today. The bill drafted by the Ministry of Health and Population states that birth certificates need not mention father’s name, providing a huge relief to single mothers. This means a mother who does not want to disclose the identity of a newborn’s father can ask the hospital administration to issue the child’s birth certificate in her name. Currently, names of both the parents must be mentioned in birth certificates. If hospital or health centre officials refuse to produce birth certificates in the name of mothers, they will be fined Rs 50,000 and/or put behind bars for six months, adds the draft bill. “This is a good move,” said advocate Mira Dhungana. “Since the mother is the person who gives birth to a child, she should hold the right to get a birth certificate on behalf of the newborn even if the father is absent.” This provision is expected to ease problems for single mothers who face problems while admitting their children in schools, which seek birth certificates, according to Dhungana. The draft bill also states that a working mother should be entitled to a paid leave of 98 days during the time of delivery. The leave can be extended by a month upon doctor’s recommendation, adds the bill. Currently, the ceiling on maternity leave is 90 days. The bill, however, has not made any change to the length of paid paternity leave, which stands at 15 days. Once the mother of a newborn joins office, she should be provided a separate room for breastfeeding for a period of two years, adds the bill. The bill has also proposed one-year jail or fine of Rs 100,000, or both, for spouses who abandon their partners citing reproductive health problems. This means spouses cannot leave their partners stating inability to produce a child. The bill has also proposed fine of Rs 50,000 or six-month jail, or both, for hospital officials who refuse to admit a pregnant woman despite availability of space and equipment. The bill also bars forceful use of contraceptives or family planning measures. Violation of this provision can result in a fine of Rs 50,000 or three- to six-month jail sentence, or both, states the draft bill.


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