15,020 fathers’ names missing from birth certificates
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January 25, 2013

15,020 fathers’ names missing from birth certificates

Officials are hoping to have over 15,000 birth certificate discrepancies rectified during a three-month, catch up campaign.{{more}}

Wednesday, at a press conference, Tamara Gibson-Marks, registrar at the High Court, said clearing up the discrepancies is just part of the campaign, which is being undertaken in collaboration with the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF).

“As of close of business day January 22, 2013, the number of children under the age of 18, with the names missing on their certificates is 1,420 persons. The number of children with mothers’ names missing on the certificates is 0. The number of birth certificates with fathers’ names missing on the certificates is 15,020.”

Gibson-Marks said the campaign has been taking place in stages, with the second phase geared at correcting those mistakes, as well as dealing with the issues of non-registration and under registration, focusing on the registration of children for whom the registry holds no record.

Marks pointed out that birth certificates are vital for a number of important milestones in the life of an individual, such access to primary school education, applying for marriage licenses, passports, visas, identification cards, and to secure inheritance.

“A birth certificate also protects from a degree of protection against child labour, early marriage, illegal adoption, sexual exploitation, recruitment into armed forces, child trafficking, becoming stateless and being treated as an adult when in conflict with the law.”

“A birth certificate is a vital document.”

Francine Alexander-Charles, representing the Foundation for the Development of Caribbean Children, the campaign’s regional coordinator, pointed out that there appears to be a trend where the absence of the fathers’ names from birth certificates is concerned.

She said that the numbers do not indicate severe cases of abandonment, but likely the need for persons to understand the importance of having names placed on certificates and correctly, which she says she hopes the campaign will fix.

“There were baseline studies done across the four Windward territories, because that’s been the focus, and in all cases, almost over 14,000 fathers’ names are missing from certificates, which in small territories like ours is actually quite a large number….”

“It may be a situation of not understanding how important it is for a father to place their names on the certificate for a child. It makes them complete, it also ensures that a child has an identity and also deals with future issues of fatherlessness and illegitimacy.

“We need to come to a place where fathers need to become involved, and more and more, fathers are becoming involved.

Alexander-Charles said that based on the Jamaican model of the campaign, more fathers are playing their part of the registration of their names on birth certificates.

“What they experienced, is that once they moved to bedside registration, they moved from having, at one of the hospitals, zero names of fathers on their certificates to one hundred percent….”

The campaign will take the form of a number of radio and television commercials and public service announcements and flyers, and parents are asked to ensure their children are registered, and in cases where registration has been done, to ensure the information on the birth certificate is correct.(JJ)