Orphaned, abandoned Children cannot be registered in Pakistan
Father, husband or unknown are the only three choices available for a child’s registration in Pakistan.
The National Database Registration Authority (NADRA) in Pakistan has no column for ‘guardian’, and if a child could not be named after their father or someone’s husband, they were registered as “na-maloom” (unknown).
This affects not only orphaned and abandoned children, but also children who are legally adopted by single women.
According to the Sindh High Court, street children or orphans or those abandoned by their mothers were the responsibility of the State and that a child protection law – the Sindh Children Protection Authority Act – has been enacted since June 9, 2011.
The law gave the government 60 days to set up district-level units for children subjected to physical and physiological violence.
However, some child rights advocates claim that the Sindh Children Protection Authority was established but nothing was known about it.
Some non-governmental organisations (NGOs) working on child protection say that they are overwhelmed by the needs that they face from orphaned and abandoned children, and that they are desperate for the government to intervene in issues such as child registration.
Registration at birth is considered a child’s basic right, and without being legally registered many children cannot access other rights which should be guaranteed to them. They are also denied the right to an official identity, a recognized name and a nationality.
With no document to prove how old they are, they may lack the most basic protection against abuse and exploitation. As well as early marriage, child labour, recruitment in the armed forces or detention and prosecution as an adult.
The Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) Article 7 states that “the child shall be registered immediately after birth and has the right to a name and nationality and to know and be cared for by his or her parents.
The State shall ensure the implementation of these rights in accordance with national law and its obligations under the relevant international instruments in this field, in particular where the child would otherwise be stateless.”