Thank you Supreme Court!! And thank you Madhav Kant Mishra for stating the obvious:
Mothers hardly match the authority a father commands in official documents necessary to prove a person’s identity. While the father’s name prominently figures in government documents, the mother is usually given the go-by.
And you know what? This bias ties back to my favourite rant. Why do kids, even in today’s day and age always take their father’s last name? Especially, when their mother hasn’t taken her husband’s last name after marriage? 99.99% cases of women I know who haven’t changed their last names after marriage, have given their husband’s last name to kids. Why? why? why? They are usually the ones who take most of the burden of childcare, their lives- physical as well as social- change more dramatically than those of their husbands.
Then why do husbands get to be umbrella identity markers? And please don’t tell me about exceptional cases like Sanjay Leela Bhansali, we are talking of the norm here. Also none of the ‘Oh, it doesn’t matter because last names are just formality/ relics of bygone era’. When majority of children carry their father’s name and not mother’s – it is clearly institutionalised sexism.
Motherhood is all about sacrifice a la Gajar ka halwa!! However, when it comes to real power- mothers can go take a hike. Because from religious rituals to government documents to last names for kids to Bollywood movies to corporate policies, it is the fathers who rule the roost. After all, the word Patriarchy is derived from the all mighty ‘father’.
The petition, filed by journalist Madhav Kant Mishra from Allahabad, says ignoring the parenthood of the mother in government documents is in gross violation of the Fundamental Right to Equality under Article 14 of the Constitution. It sought an ordinance making the mother’s name compulsory in documents.
Why are we asked to name FATHER OR HUSBAND in every frikkin document: from passport to nursery leaving certificates to bank accounts to medical tests to pan card to voter’s card?
Because father ( or husband) is used as a marker of identity.
‘ Whose daughter/ son? ‘
Sort of like when in ancient times a person would be first a part of the community/ caste/ village/ family and then an individual.
It would have seemed quaint has it not been 21st century. And had mother was also used as a marker of a person’s identity.
But it is done rarely. It is not ironical but outright fucked up that while a woman’s femininity is validated the most when she is a mother, her identity as a mother is not good enough to be acknowledged as a marker for her own kid.
She is not good enough to preside over any traditional ceremony, the kids almost always take father’s last name, and she isn’t considered parent enough to be mentioned in any official document concerning her child.
So hope that social, legal, official and cultural norms change to acknowledge mothers’ rights in meaningful manner rather than melodramatic lip service.