Include Mother's Maiden Name in Child's Birth Certificate

Include Mother's Maiden Name in Child's Birth Certificate

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The mental harassment I went through because of my name at the Regional Passport Office in Mumbai was deeply scarring for my 9-year-old daughter. She asked me whether she was really our child. She demanded to be shown photographs from her childhood of her with her father and me. It broke my heart.

My name is Sonal Babre. I’m an advocate in the Bombay High Court. When I got married, I didn’t change my surname like most women of my generation because it is not legally compulsory and secondly, I am proud to go by maiden name for personal and professional reasons. Besides asking a woman to choose between her identities is unnecessary and unfair.

The problem:
When my daughter was born,
my husband put my name as "Sonal Iyer" in her birth certificate without thinking much of it, even though all my ID documents list me as Sonal Babre. We didn’t realise this would cause mayhem when we applied for her passport in February 2020. Passport authorities kicked up a fuss because I had put my maiden name (Babre) in my daughter’s application, while her birth certificate showed my married name (Iyer). They told me that the mother's name as written in the child's birth certificate is the only format accepted for the child's passport. I protested as I know our laws, yet they were stubborn. 

I was figuratively beaten into giving up my identity of 44 years by this system that is so deeply patriarchal. The harassment continued even after I returned five days later with a copy of the newspaper ad that showed my name change, just like they had told me to. They blasted me for not getting a gazette notification. I was told to come back with additional documents in March 2020 and that’s when COVID-19 hit India. I went through this for my daughter's sake.

The solution:
Nobody has questioned this unfair system that has harassed women for decades
. I know that there are thousands of women and mothers like me who are suffering. This affects our children too when we apply for ID documents for them. 

I’ve started this petition so that no other woman has to ever go through this ordeal.

Sign my petition asking the government to bring in flexibility in birth certificates so that both the mother’s maiden name and married name are mentioned.

When the government takes action, it will benefit women who do not change their name after marriage, single mothers and all families that are trying to get their child's documents.

I believe that it is only when thousands and lakhs of us stand together and raise our voices for this cause will we be able to change these outdated rules that belong in another century, and benefit women and families all over India.

Sign and share #WhatsInAName.