‘Constitution to be more gender friendly’

  • citizenship provision
- DEWAN RAI, Kathmandu

Aug 18, 2015-

The Political Dialogue and Consensus Committee has decided to allow foreign wives of Nepali men to become Nepali citizens whenever they want.

The earlier revised draft, released on August 9, had not specified gender of the foreign spouse and had left it up to the law to explain the condition for naturalised citizenship.

On Tuesday, the committee revised the draft to replace the article with a previous version. Article 11.6 will now allow foreign spouse of a Nepali man to become a naturalised citizen. There are no provisions for foreign spouses of Nepali women.

Existing laws allow non-Nepali women married to Nepali men to become a citizen as soon as they start the process of renouncing their previous citizenship. Non-Nepali men married to Nepali women have to wait for 15 years before they can apply for a citizenship.

The committee, however, kept other provisions on naturalised citizenship intact. Clause (now 11.7) says that children of Nepali women married to non-Nepali men will not receive naturalised citizenship unless the husband becomes a Nepali citizen. No such provision exists for children of Nepali men married to non-Nepali women. The provisions on citizenship by descent also remain unchanged, with the ‘and’ clause still in effect. The clause makes it mandatory for both parents to be Nepali while applying for citizenship by descent.

“The reviewed provisions, which are mostly similar to the ones in the Interim Constitution, are better than the draft but is still discriminatory against women,” said advocate Dipendra Jha.

UCPN (Maoist) leader Narayan Kaji Shrestha said that the provisions on citizenship were still discriminatory, but the draft of the new constitution, as a whole, was more gender equal than the Interim Constitution.

“We could not convince the ruling parties for equal provision,” said Shrestha. “Ruling parties wanted conditions for foreign spouse to acquire naturalised citizenship, while Madhesi leaders refused to compromise on existing provisions.” After the meeting, PDCC chairman Baburam Bhattarai updated his facebook status ‘accepting defeat with patriarchal mindset’, referring to leaders involved in reviewing the draft.

Dismayed by the new provision, former CA member and advocate Sapana Pradhan Malla questioned the authority of the PDCC.

“The PDCC keeps changing the provisions for no apparent reason,” she said. “Nepali laws never acknowledged independent existence of women but this draft has denied the existence of men this time.”

The new provision requires both parents to be present together for a child to acquire citizenship. “Why are women issues not a political agenda? Are women not of power and part of the constitution writing process?” questioned Malla.


Published: 19-08-2015 07:37

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