National identity cards in Afghanistan will carry a person’s mother’s name alongside that of the father following the latest decree signed into law by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.
The move comes after years of campaigning by Afghan women seeking greater rights for their children. Until recently, Afghans have only been identified by their father’s name on most government documents, creating legal and bureaucratic hurdles for Afghan women to claim legal rights over their children.
In a deeply patriarchal society such as Afghanistan, even mentioning the names of women of the household can be seen as dishonourable.
As a result, identities of mothers are often not mentioned on government documents, and can lead to severe discrimination especially for single women and widows who are unable to prove their relation with their own children.
Among them is Farzana Paigham, 29, a single mother of three from Aybak city in the northern province of Samangan. Farzana’s husband suffered from drug addiction issues for many years, and abandoned the family while the kids were still young.
“I raised my children without my husband for many years, and being a single mother in Afghanistan is like swallowing poison. There is so much judgement and gossip,” she told The National.
But it got worse when Paigham tried to enrol two of her daughters in school which required getting national ID cards. “There are no documents that show me as their parent so I can’t get their IDs,” Ms Paigham said.
“I tried explaining to the officials that I am the only parent but they treated me badly. My eldest is nine-years-old and she still doesn’t go to school,” she said.
Read full report on The National