THE GDN has teamed up with campaigners seeking a change in the law, which would allow Bahraini women to pass on their nationality to their children.
A petition called #MakeADifference launches today in association with four Bahraini societies, which are seeking equal citizenship rights for children born to Bahraini women irrespective of their father’s nationality.
Children of Bahraini women are currently denied citizenship if their fathers are foreign, but children of Bahraini men are automatically granted a passport – even if their mothers are from overseas.
An amendment to the law, which would grant equal citizenship rights, is currently under review in parliament.
The Bahrain Human Rights Watch Society (BHRWS), Bahrain Women’s Union, Bahrain Young Ladies Association and Women’s Crisis Care International are all supporting the petition, which will be presented to MPs.
Parliament is due to convene on Sunday following its summer recess and the topic will be among items on the agenda in the coming term.
However, campaigners fear the amendment could be shot down due to opposition already expressed by parliament’s foreign affairs, defence and national security committee, which is reviewing the proposed change in the law.
The BHRWS will also launch its own campaign on Sunday called “My Family ... Deserve It”, with plans to lobby parliament to push through the amendment.
Its secretary general, Faisal Fulad, described existing rules banning women from passing on their nationality to their offspring as “outdated”.
“We aim to update the outdated 1963 Citizenship Law with this amendment (to allow Bahraini women to pass on their citizenship to their children),” he told the GDN.
“We will do it through social media and other public forums, including the GDN campaign in the coming days.
“Bahraini men married to foreign women can pass on their citizenship to their children, even if they are not living in Bahrain, but Bahraini women living in the country cannot – this is against the constitution.
“Bahraini citizens are entitled to greater benefits, such as government houses, housing loans, social assistance, voting rights and education priority rights.
“Denying citizenship to those whose mothers are Bahraini (but whose fathers are not) deprives them of these benefits and they are like foreigners in their own country, which is unfair.
“It is now up to parliament to step in and all parties, including non-governmental organisations, need to assume their responsibilities and motivate parliament and the Shura Council to support the move to amend the Citizenship Law.”
The BHRWS says 3,525 children born to Bahraini mothers and foreign fathers were given Bahraini nationality from 2006 to 2014, but only thanks to the intervention of His Majesty King Hamad.