Census: Gewog administrations across Trashigang are confronted with at least two to three cases related to the census registration of children without legitimate fathers every year.
The fate of the fatherless children hangs in balance because it takes some time to register their censuses if a mother is unable to identify the child’s father.
Yedham Zangmo, a single mother with four children, said that it took almost six years to register her youngest daughter.
“It was not difficult for my first three kids because the process wasn’t as difficult back then,” she said. “In case of my youngest, however, a relative of mine had to stand as the father because her biological father did not want to accept the truth.”
Kinley Wangmo, also a single mother, has a different story to share. It took her a few years to register the census of her nine-year old child, but the child is yet to get his citizenship identity card (CID).
“I faced a lot of problems trying to enroll him in a school because schools require child’s CID together with marriage certificate of parents,” she said. “Fortunately, the school finally approved his admission.”
Local leaders said that if possible they try to solve issues of fatherless children at the gewog administration level.
“But we do not have the authority to approve census to these children. If problems can’t be solved, we put the matter up to the authorities concerned,” said Samkhar Gup Sonam Dorji.
Kanglung Gup Kinzang Dorji said that it is common to find single mothers in villages.
“This is a serious issue that requires further attention because fatherless children are also born as bonafide Bhutanese citizens. Why should these innocent souls suffer?” asked Kinzang Dorji.
Trashigang’s civil registration and census officer, Dorji Rinchen, said that not many cases come to the office. Cases that come are forwarded to the higher authorities.
“From 2013 to 2015, we saw eight cases and we have forwarded them to the Department of Civil Registration and Census under the Ministry of Home and Cultural Affairs,” he said. “It may take time, but we try to find some way forward.”
Most women today prefer court settlements and DNA tests to determine or confirm their child’s biological father to traditional out-of-court settlements.
Kesang, a single mother, said that DNA tests are expensive for people in the villages.
Local leaders said that sometimes a child’s father happens to be an expatriate and even monk.
“In such cases, there is nothing we can do to facilitate the census registration. The law doesn’t approve of it,” said a local leader.
Tshering Wangdi, Trashigang