DOUBLE TROUBLE: THE TUSSLE OVER NAME CHANGE

Rifa Deka

The struggle of applying for identity cards, running from pillar to post appealing for proper documents is not something which is new to any of us anymore. Each one of us has a story to narrate about the time when we toiled to get that ID made. Imagine having to go through that trouble twice!

Addressing an issue that should have been sermonized a long time ago, writing on behalf of all Eves, let’s get rid of the custom already! Women are not ‘property’ and they certainly do not belong to an Adam. Why then do we still continue this practice of making women change their names after marriage?

One doesn’t need to share a name to become family and it is an undeniable fact that changing one’s last name is heap loads of work and it absolutely makes no sense. Why then do women still do it? Why go through all this trouble in an attempt to please the society. Although this is a choice, neither customary nor legally binding on any woman, most women still take the pain, either to satisfy the ego of their spouse or spouse’s family.

There is absolutely no need for one to keep clarifying to each and every person one meets that he or she is the same person who has earned those certificates, degrees and accolades. Having grown up and done both my schooling and graduation using my father’s surname, things turned difficult when both my parents decided to split up one day. I too took my mother’s maiden name as my last name after my mother decided to change her name back to the name she had before marriage. I’m not a married woman and yet I can relate to their plight. Speaking of those women who got divorced, being called by the same name as their ex-husbands must be one distressing thing and hence most women go through the trouble of doing it all, once again.

My mother and I both had to get an affidavit made; we gave that small name change advertisement in the classifieds page of one local (vernacular) newspaper and one English Daily under the ‘Name Change’ section following which, we applied for this piece of information to be published in the Official Gazette of the State Government. Likewise, we will have to individually apply for each and every document already in our possession and take the pain of going through the entire time taking process once more.

As for me, I have had to run around to open a new bank account with my new details because the documentation process was a time taking one and I needed to encash cheques that were issued on my new name. Thanks to my misfortune, I could only get myself to open a Small Savings Account with a limit both on deposit and withdrawal amounts. It does get frustrating when I have to put all my important work aside and run to government offices just to know that the officer who is going to sign and forward my papers has either just left or is occupied elsewhere. What a complete waste of time, energy and effort!

The one question that I’ve continuously been asking myself and others over the past few months is – why do women bother causing this kind of inconvenience to their own selves? Let that beautiful last name stay, woman! How else will your friends find you on Facebook years from now when you lose touch with them?

When we women have clearly established, in front of the world, that we are very well capable of doing everything that a man is; sometimes even better, why then should a woman always be addressed as someone’s daughter or wife? Also, it’s about time we stop putting the ‘D/O’ and ‘W/O’ option on all forms for all purposes.

An interesting development I came across while applying for new documents was that one does not mandatorily have to apply for a PAN card using their father’s name like before anymore. One can now apply using their mother’s name. It is good to see that things are finally changing but the speed of this change needs to be accelerated.

I look forward to a day, and I know the day will come, when women will choose to be “some bodies” over “somebody’s”!

 

Featured Image: midiamax