Bahrain: Children of foreign fathers get Bahraini citizenship

Gulf News via WUNRN
King Hamad Bin Eisa Al Khalifa has granted Bahraini citizenship to 300 children of Bahraini mothers married to foreigners.
The decision was hailed by women rights activists as a much-needed move "to rectify a blatant social injustice against women and end the suffering and exclusion of many families."
Bahrain's citizenship law allows Bahraini fathers to transmit their nationality to their children born in or outside the kingdom, but there is no similar right for Bahraini mothers. Women rights activists have been campaigning for an amendment of the law, citing severe integration issues, family instability and social insecurity.

"The constitution guarantees gender equality in everything as part of international agreements Bahrain has signed," women's rights activist Esmat Al Mousawi yesterday told Gulf News. "So, it is with immense pleasure that we receive such wonderful news as granting Bahraini citizenship to the children of Bahraini mothers married to foreigners."

Campaigns by official and civil society organisations to remove the discrimination against Bahraini women in passing their nationality to their children have been resisted by the authorities on the grounds that several non-Bahraini men were marrying Bahraini women in order to become eligible for the nationality.

"The point was not to allow these men to use Bahraini women to achieve a new legal status in Bahrain," said Al Mousawi, a member of the Supreme Council for Women.

Many Bahraini women are married to men of Palestinian, Jordanian, Egyptian, Yemeni, Iranian, Pakistani and Indian origin. Official figures of children of Bahraini women and foreign fathers are not available.

By Habib Toumi, Bureau Chief
Published: 09/20/2006