MALAYSIA Tanah Tumpah Darahku


Friday, August 12, 2022

Children penalised in citizenship law dispute


Malaysian mothers unable to confer citizenship to their children born overseas is an irresponsible decision, as it penalises the child over the circumstances of their birth.

The recent court decision is a disappointing one, begging the question, are we even serious about gender equality in this country?

If we cannot even get this basic issue that impacts the most vulnerable among us sorted, then what hope is there for the voices of women to be on a level-playing field with men in other areas where nation-building and the global fora are concerned?

Citizenship makes the world of difference to children as it touches every aspect of their lives. From access to healthcare to welfare to education, the court has failed to appreciate that the true impact of their decision falls onto children.

Worse still, the decision disproportionately affects children from lower-income households as they are unable to afford private services.

In many instances, whole families have been torn apart where some children can find themselves unable to be with their Malaysian mothers or, have been rendered stateless altogether. In a situation where there is a breakdown in marriage, the child, not being a Malaysian, cannot be with their mother.

I am also disappointed to read how some people think that the solution is simply for pregnant women not to travel, so they won't give birth overseas. Women's movements are not the problem and restricting them is not the solution.

I have also read disturbing comments where people say that women would need to be cautious of marrying foreigners because foreigners would use women just to get citizenship.

This argument seriously undermines women's capability to make their own decisions about who they choose to marry. How come we are not asking men the same kinds of questions?

And ultimately, why is it so wrong for families to want to be together anyway?

We need to begin by calling out discrimination. Why is it that Malaysian fathers can pass on citizenship to their children, but Malaysian mothers are unable to do so?

How are children of Malaysian fathers more worthy of this country, and how threatened are we by children of Malaysian mothers?

The court decision simply said that well, because the law is written that way. Again, this excuse simply misses the point that lives continue to suffer as a result of upholding these laws.

Oppressive laws can be changed. Oppressive laws must be changed. - Mkini

MAJIDAH HASHIM is an old-school sustainability professional and a human rights defender.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of MMKtT.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.