Bahrain: 'Nationality for children' campaign is stepped up

Gulf Daily News
The campaign, which was launched in July, is being held under the slogan My Nationality is My Right and that of My Children and is part of a regional push.
It is spearheaded in Bahrain by the BWS, which is demanding that Bahraini women be able to extend their nationality to their children - regardless of their husbands' nationalities.
At the meeting, the group was updated on the progress being exerted for the national campaign and future plans.

Women campaigning for their rights were also asked to give information about their situation and difficulties in gaining citizenship for their children.

BWS president Dr Wajeeha Al Baharna said the information given by the women would be submitted to the regional campaign, based in Beirut, Lebanon as part of an in-depth study.

The regional campaign is backed by organisations in Bahrain, Morocco, Lebanon, Jordan, Yemen, Tunisia, Algeria, Syria, Palestine and Egypt.

"Each country needs to summit a report, so they can see what is going on and hopefully it will encourage other countries in the GCC to get involved," Dr Al Baharna told the GDN.

"At the moment Bahrain is the only country in the GCC that has launched this campaign and we encourage others to join us."

Dr Al Baharna said it was difficult to tell what progress the national campaign was making, but was confident that it was gaining ground.

"We have support from many sides. The Interior Ministry Under-Secretary for Nationality, Passports and Residence Shaikh Rashid bin Khalifa Al Khalifa and Parliament have been very understanding and this will help us take more practical steps," she said.

"We are doing this because we want to push through women's rights. Men have this right and there should be equality for men and women.


"It is a type of discrimination against women and we want social equality."

Dr Al Baharna said that in the last year Algeria, Morocco and Egypt had changed their laws to allow female citizens the right to extend their nationality to their children, regardless of their husbands' nationality.

Dr Al Baharna said this move had helped motivate and strengthen the national campaign.

Under Bahrain's current laws, non-Bahraini husbands of Bahraini women are not given special citizenship privileges and their children are not automatically granted nationality.

However, the children of Bahraini men who marry non-Bahraini women are automatically granted full Bahraini citizenship.

Their wives are also allowed to apply for citizenship rights sooner than they would normally be able to.

As adults, children of non-Bahraini fathers do not have legal permission to vote or take part in political life and cannot take employment without getting a permit.

In the past, Bahraini women affected by the law have individually been making personal appeals to government officials in a bid to have their children's rights recognised, but to little avail.

By Rebecca Torr and originally published in The Gulf Daily News, Vol XXVIII, NO. 206, Wednesday, 12 October 2005