Tuesday, March 8, 2016

On this International Day of Women, Give Bhutanese Women Equality

On this International Women’s Day I would like to offer Greetings to all the Women of Bhutan, and to those all around the world.

There are huge moral and social issues that challenge women around the world. In Bhutan, the issues are not as varied or as condemnatory. In fact our social and religious beliefs make no distinction between a Woman and a man.

But one of our laws do - it vilifies our Women! This law is an insult to our Women - it degrades them to someone lesser than a man. Our primeval law that disallows citizenship to children born to Women who cannot name the father of the child, or fathered by none-Bhutanese, is an affront to Women of Bhutan.

It is a law that has forced many Women in Bhutan to resort to unlawful acts of deception. This law has forced hundreds, if not thousands of Women around the country to name their fathers (grandfather of the children) as the father of their fatherless children, so that they may qualify as a Bhutanese and be entered into the national census records. At one level this could be branded as incest and, at another, it forces a citizen to commit an act of willful crime. Thousands of children born to legitimate Bhutanese mothers are denied their birth right to citizenship and education, because their mothers are unable to name their fathers or that they have been fathered by a none-Bhutanese.

There is nothing dignified or honorable about this law. Every lawmaker - men or Women - should hang their heads in shame that such a disgraceful law should be allowed to continue to humiliate our Women.

Therefore on this International Day of Women, let us make a promise to make the abolishment of this law our defining issue for this decade.

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