Re: news item on the net that a Nepalganj-based NGO is ready to conduct DNA tests to identify the patrimony of the 'illegitimate' children of Badis. This was all-important, the item explained, because the father's name is mandatory in all legal documents, including Nepali citizenship. As someone working in the much-maligned 'development' field this was great news, but as a sensible feminist, I was appalled. This is not a step forward, but a leap backwards. None of the organisations working with women in Nepal seem to have a problem with this: in this day and age, a Nepali child still needs a patriarchal stamp to be recognised as a citizen. What will happen if the Nepalganj NGO manages to trace the fathers, and even wangles citizenships for the children? The fathers will certainly not look after the upkeep of their offspring. The mothers who gave birth to the children will, on the other hand, probably continue to do so with or without citizenship. The government needs to rethink its laws if it incapacitates a whole community. Instead of DNA testing to identify these fugitive sperm donors, children of the Badi community should be granted citizenship based on their mothers' name.
Pema Lhaki Vaidya,