A Quest for Identity: From Personal to Political

10 Pages Posted: 24 Jun 2016

Date Written: June 23, 2016

Abstract

Despite the far reaching role of identity, the Indian Constitution still does not regard the right to identity as a fundamental right or even explicitly guarantee it even though it elaborates on the concept of citizenship. The state does not give the freedom to individuals to choose their identity or the way they would like to be recognized, it’s almost as if the state forces its perceived identity, thereby segregating the society on the basis of religion, sexual preferences, caste, and culture and discriminating against certain sections which it deems unfavorable.

The debates on identity and human rights have weaved a complicated fabric of entitlements and accountability on the part of citizens and the state. However, this discourse has overlooked a significant aspect of identity in terms of children, who are born out of wed lock, children of single parents, children of sex workers, children born out of rape, orphan, abandoned, destitute children, and children of terrorists and lately children who are born out of commercial surrogacy and in doing so the society upholds the father or the male parent as a superior being relegating or even negating the role of mother in the defining the life and identity of the child. In other words, the state and the society sanction legitimacy only to those children who are born into a typical heterosexual wedlock that is legal under the social, moral and legal norms. Neither the law nor the society accepts that child as a normal human being with his or her own unique identity, for reasons which may be beyond his or her control.

The reason for denial of the basic human right to identity of such individuals is that the state premised its notion of family as a unit of production on the stereotypes where the male is seen as a provider and a female is seen as a producer, caregiver of the family and one who rears children. It fails to take into account, the shift in the concept of a family with the changing socioeconomic and technological aspects which call for the change in notion of a family as well as examining and redefining the concept of motherhood and fatherhood within these emerging contexts.

Keywords: women, single mother, passport, identity, child rights, law, policy, Unwed mothers, rape survivors, sex workers

Suggested Citation

Nigam, Shalu and Nigam, J., A Quest for Identity: From Personal to Political (June 23, 2016). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2799670

Shalu Nigam (Contact Author)

Independent ( email )

No Address Available
India

J. Nigam

Independent

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