Interview with a child in Nepal who is stateless due to gender discrimination in the nationality law
I wish my country would accept me the way I am. I wish to do so much good for my country when I grow up but the bitterness that is filled I spend my time trying to replace it with positive energy for tomorrow’s possibility. I wish children brought up by single mothers or fathers to be accepted by law as any normal children with both parents. When the child is born in any land he/ she must have the rights to belong to that land and call it a motherland.
Where are you from?
I am from Nepal and my parents are from Nepal as well.
Do you go to school?
Yes I go to school and I am in grade eleven. Art Classes and library are the two best things that I like in school apart from studies.
Do you do any extra-curricular activities?
I love music. I love to play guitar and sing along. However, I like to take serious participation in sports, but it is bit expensive so I gave up.
Do you want to do any higher studies?
I have wished to apply to university but I have dropped that idea because I do not have citizenship. My friends all are applying for university aboard and are currently studying in A-Levels. This course is mainly to prepare students for abroad studies. But because I know I cannot apply for it I changed my school recently and have joined +2 course in a private school.
Have you ever had to work?
I have done voluntary works during my holidays but never had to work for money as my mother always encourages us to focus on our studies.
Describe yourself in 10 years’ time.
I see myself as a successful Chartered Accountant in ten years’ time. I will also have established an organisation (hopefully) to help the street dogs and rescue animals. If in case I have my citizenship, I would also like to prepare myself for an international platform such as National Geographic or CNN.
What does ‘home’ mean to you?
To me, home is a place where I get unconditional love, encouragement and support. Home is the only place where you will be loved even if the whole world is against you. I can be myself and I am not judged for who I am. When in trouble, I can rely on my family with no hesitation. Home is where you get your confidence from. This is where I can put all the troubles out of the window and sleep with no fear. A place where I know where to look for real food when I am hungry. This is also a place where my loyalty lies and I know I can fight and defend my home from the rest of the world if the time comes.
What makes you most sad?
The fact that our country does not recognise women’s identity and that women are not considered trust worthy enough to pass on their citizenship to their children. In fact, women are proven to be more reliable as far as their children are considered.
What makes you most happy?
When I think about how my mother and different organisations are working for the cause. I am happy to see women are getting more empowered.
What is the one thing that you would love to do, that you cannot?
One thing I DREAM of is to travel. I wonder how it be to travel around the world, learn and see with my own senses and to do good to people I meet along my way. At the most I wish I could go to a nearby place like Thailand with my family. I know I cannot because me, my elder sister and my step dad, we all do not have citizenship and passports. We avoid the topic of traveling as much as possible because I don’t want to see my mum sad.
Do you have documentation?
The documentation I have is birth registration which my mum acquired after a long fight at the Supreme Court. It says I am the daughter of “Mr. Unidentified” and the granddaughter of “Mr. Unidentified”. I find it very difficult to carry such documentation. I am told that even tomorrow if the government decides to issue citizenship to me, that is if my mother wins another case in the Supreme Court, I will be issued citizenship with the tag of daughter of "Mr. Unidentified". So yes, that would be wonderful to have complete documentation, to establish myself as a citizen, a human being so that me and my family do not have to suffer this ordeal which we do not know will ever be ended.
Have you ever been in a situation which showed to you that you are treated differently to your friends?
I always felt the same as my friends until the day when I had to fill in my form for the School Leaving Certificate’s board exam. I had to attach my birth registration certificate and for that my father’s identity was required. Every friend’s form was accepted but not mine. My family went through a traumatic phase during that time. My mother then filed a petition in the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court then made a stay order and my form was accepted but to get the final verdict it took us one and half years. And after much waiting, to our disappointment, I received my birth registration certificate with the tag of daughter of “Mr. Unidentified”. My friends often ask me about my father’s whereabouts and I feel my existence itself is wrong. I feel sad for my mother.