A Kenya Court has given all children born out of lawful wedlock the right to register their father’s name.
In ruling the landmark judgement which allows the inclusion of the father’s name on birth records of children born out of wedlock, Jutice Mumbi Ngugi observed that children born outside marriage face discrimination based on their parent’s marital status.
She explained that every child has a right to have the name of their father on the birth certificate without the consent of the father.
Justice Mumbi Ngugi further referenced Section 12 of the Registration of Births and Deaths Act, describing it as being unconstitutional and violates Article 27 of the Constitution.
Under the Registration of Births and Deaths Act, a child’s mother cannot enter the name of the father of the child in the birth certificate without the father’s consent in the case of children born out of wedlock.
She said even though the Attorney-General had defended the law saying that it was aimed at protecting men from “unscrupulous women”, she said the law needs to be changed to protect the rights of every child regardless of the marital status of their parents.
The Attorney General has now been given 45 days to comply with the directive and make the necessary legislation.
This case was brought to court by an unmarried mother who wanted her children to have their father’s name registered in their birth registers arguing that the status quo puts them at a disadvantage in terms of inheritance.
Prior to the judgement, fathers’ consent was required – and some birth certificates have Xs marked in the slot for the father.
But with the latest ruling, the long-held belief which regards such children as bastards or illegitimate children leading to unfair treatment of innocent children will be curbed.
Children who are regarded as illegal children are often ones born out of lawful wedlock, either because he is the child of a woman who is not lawfully married at all, or because he is the child of a woman who is lawfully married, but upon whom he is begotten by another than her lawful husband.