The Interim Constitution of Nepal guarantees the right to identity as a fundamental right. Legal identity documents confirm a state’s acknowledgement of a person’s existence. In Nepal, the citizenship certificate is considered as most important formal legal document, as it is often a prerequisite for obtaining other identity documents. But it is not easy for rural women to get citizenship in Nepal. Representing all rural women, Maiya Sunar is the one of an example of it. She also has to struggle to get Citizenship card.
33 years old, Maiya lives in Patlekhet of Kavre district. She born in a poor family. Maiya was the youngest child of her parent. Mother of Maiya died when she was 2 years of old. When she was in primary level, she has to drop out of school due to financial crisis. Since, she started to engage in working as domestic worker in village. At the age of 17, her father forced her to marriage with 24 years old man next to her village. Her marital life was not easy because her husband was alcoholic. Her husband is a driver who worked for a whole day and returns home drunk. She used to advice her husband not to drink too much but in return she got physical and mental tortures. Day passed; she gave a birth to daughter. Both mother and daughter didn’t get proper care during maternity period andphysical and mentaltortures increased for her because she was not able to give son to a family. She also begins to get a threatened about her husband second marriage.
After the devastating earthquake struck the country, Maiya lost her house and she have to live with her husband and daughter in a temporary shelter. Many relief efforts came during that period. Maiya also got the support of cloth, foods, tents, tin sheets and Nrs. 15,000 to be protected from monsoon. To receive these supports, it is much necessary to have a citizenship card. Maiya didn’t have citizenship card so, her husband went to receive a support. But unfortunately, the amount was spent on alcohol by her husband. Maiya neither got any money nor got money to get protected in monsoon in her temporary shelter. She shared “I feel very bad during that time, I was deprived of getting relief amount only because I do not have citizenship card.” My husband wastes that money in buying bottles of alcohol. Day passed and I have attended various orientation programs organized by different organization. One day there was a program on Women’s Right and Violence against women organized by WOREC Nepal.
"My neighbor asked me to join that orientation, I went there with my two years old daughter. During the program, rights of women were discussed and issues of citizenship were also raised. I got the information and in the end of the program some women shared the cases of land and they got legal advice from resource person." She said I wanted to share the problem but felt shy.
On the mid of June, She heard that Village Development Committee Office is going to distribute allowances for the child that is under the age of four. She also went to take an allowance. But same as before, she needs to show her citizenship card in order to receive it. She stood quietly nearby the VDC Office, and asked a woman where she should go to get a citizenship card and what are the processes. That woman introduced her to staff of WOREC. She shared her problem about her house, husband and supports that she was not able to receive. Staff of WOREC went her home and met her husband. She tried to convince her husband to get citizenship for his wife but her husband was so furious and said "I won't allow her to get citizenship card until she gives a birth to a son”. Staff of WOREC still tried to convince him that getting a citizenship is her fundamental right and daughter and son are same. After a long discussion WOREC staff was able to convince him to get a citizenship for Maiya. From the day her husband got the information about women's and got aware about the legal provision for domestic violence he lessen to tortured her as before but he still drinks.
Despite all these problems, Maiya got a citizenship card and she is activeand encouraged to take leadership and participate in disaster recovery and decision making, roles in government's rehabilitation and reconstruction plan.
She is happy with her daughter and is participating regularly in the training, meeting and discussion organized by community and organizations.