If orphaned, abandoned or adopted, NADRA won’t register you
KARACHI: Father, husband or unknown are the only three choices a woman has if she wants to fill in a form for an adopted child’s registration in Pakistan. The National Database Registration Authority (Nadra) has no column for ‘guardian’, which is what Ayesha Jalil learned when she went to its office to register the baby girl she had so lovingly adopted.
If Jalil could not name the father of the child or a husband, she had to write “na-maloom” (unknown). This raised the issue of single women who want to adopt. Jalil took the matter to the Sindh High Court, which during the hearing raised the welfare of street children or orphans or those abandoned by their mothers.
The court was told that such children were the responsibility of the State and a law – the Sindh Orphanages Act – existed. It was later replaced by the Sindh Children Protection Authority Act on June 9, 2011.
The law gave the government 60 days to set up district-level units for children subjected to physical and physiological violence within 60 days. According to the act, the minister of social welfare was to be the chairman of the authority.
On Friday, the case was taken up by Chief Justice Mushir Alam and Justice Syed Muhammad Farooq Shah. Barristers Salahuddin Ahmed and Abdur Rahman, appearing as Amicus Curiae (Latin term for friends of the court), submitted that the Sindh Children Protection Authority was established but nothing was known about it.
Barrister Salahuddin suggested summoning the secretary of the provincial social welfare department and the authority’s chairperson to sort out the issues. As the Sindh government’s lawyer was unable to tell the court anything about the current state of the authority, the judges put off the hearing ordering him to come up with complete details.
Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa have not only established such authorities, but have also set up units and bureau offices, said Iqbal Detho, the country manager of Sparc (Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child) while talking to The Express Tribune. “We did contact the minister, but have not received a positive response yet.”
Some non-governmental organisations are working on child protection, but due to limited resources they cannot cater to their needs. “We are trying for the government to intervene.” The authority was supposed to have two MPAs, two lawyers and two social workers as its members. But reports suggest that the minister is annoyed over the nomination of two lawyers, delaying the whole matter.
The department’s secretary claims that the final proposal to set up the authority has been sent to the chief minister and his response is awaited. Nargis ND Khan, the social welfare minister, could not be contacted despite repeated attempts.