Move over dad, mum's the word now

19 May,2010 01:00 PM IST |   |  Kranti Vibhute

Landmark circular issued by state education department instructs schools to accept middle and last name of single mothers in the child's records from new academic year

Landmark circular issued by state education department instructs schools to accept middle and last name of single mothers in the child*s records from new academic year

In a landmark move that will be seen by many as a sign of Indian society shaking off the last of its patriarchal shackles, the state education department, in a circular issued to all the schools in the state, has instructed them to accept the middle and last name of a single mother in the child*s records from the new academic year.

Momma*s girls: Niloufer Mistry, who recently adopted abandoned Orissa twins Suruchi and Suniti, is happy that they won*t have to go only by their first names anymore. PIC/ATUL KAMBLE

Single mothers will, however, have to produce documentation to support their single mom status, such as a copy of the divorce order or proof of custody of the child.

The move has, expectedly, brought much joy to estranged wives, divorced women and single adoptive parents. Niloufer Mistry, a single mom from Babulnath, who recently adopted abandoned Orissa twins Suruchi and Suniti, said, "It is a wonderful thing. My children don*t have proper birth certificates or a last name and have been forced to go by their first names since I am still completing the adoption legalities. I faced many problems getting them admission into kindergarten because of my single status."

Amita Shah (name changed), an estranged wife, said, "I have been taking care of my son for six years, but because I am not yet divorced, I have been forced to give him my husband*s surname. It*ll be a proud moment for me when, once I get custody, he gets my surname instead of his father*s, who abandoned him."

Francis Swamy, Principal of Holy Family High School, Andheri, and member of the SSC board, said, "In today*s scenario, when a single woman can bear the burden of her entire family, why should the privilege of giving her name to her child be denied to her. It is, after all, a matter of dignity."

Just the beginning
Other requirements

If a single mother has adopted her husband*s surname, she will have to change her surname back to the original, according to the provisions of the Maharashtra state gazette and submit a copy of the affidavit to the school.

In all cases -- whether adopted or otherwise -- the single mother will need to produce an affidavit to the school, proving that she is the legal custodian of the child.

Flavia Agnes, lawyer and co-founder of the women*s advocacy group, NGO Majlis, said, "I welcome the move, but providing particular legal papers would be a problem for some single mothers. If a husband staying abroad has deserted his wife and child, how will she prove that she is a single mother? It would help to allow an affidavit to be given for the same."

"Single mothers also have problems with passport requests, among other issues. So, for the move to be truly meaningful, it should signal the beginning of a much wider change in society."


I am sure every child is more indebted to the mother, loves her truly and wants to give her equal respect. So, it is good news that even the law recognises it now.
Subhash Ghai, filmmaker

A mother is above any legal validation. The part she plays is unfortunately not something words can be leveraged for... it*s an honour to know, to experience and live a life with a mother. The recent ruling will give the identity legality but, beyond that, it*s just wonderful to read her name attached to your own. My name is Karan Hiroo Yash Johar and I am a proud son!
Karan Johar, filmmaker

It is a good decision by the government to give the child the choice to use his mother*s name as a last name.
Mahesh Bhatt, filmmaker

What*s in a name? It doesn*t make a difference. The education department should focus its energy on doing other more important things.
Neena Gupta, actress and single mother

State Education Department Landmark Judgment Single mothers last names child records new school year
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