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AG advises mothers on naming of children and excluding runaway fathers

By Kamau Muthoni | April 12th 2016

Attorney General Githu Muigai has blamed single mothers for failing to include names of runaway men in their children's birth notifications.

In his submission before High Court judge Mumbi Ngugi Prof Muigai yesterday said that if a woman included the name of her baby's father in the birth notification, the name would also be indicated in the birth certificate.

"Mothers refuse to give names at hospital. There is nothing that stops them to register the names immediately after birth. Some women submit names late, of which the registrar of birth has to ask them to get consent first," the court heard.

The AG told the court that section 12 of Births and Deaths Registration Act, requiring women to seek men's consent only comes into play on late registration.

The AG had earlier argued that section 12 was meant to discourage women out to pin their suitors on children but lawyer John Chigiti, representing a woman who wants men compelled to have their names in birth certificates, argued that he had not provided any incident where a man was lured by a woman using pregnancy.

"Where the notification register is surrendered to the Registrar of Births and Deaths when the name of the child's father is not included, the registrar has no other way of ascertaining authenticity of a declaration being made thereafter except by consent of the alleged father," Githu argued.

Chigiti told Justice Mumbi that section 12 was unclear on whether a man's consent should only be done on account of late registration or is a blanket law meant to lock out illegitimate children from claiming equal rights to those born in marriages.

The birth certificates of many children born out of wedlock bear the letters xxxxx in place of father of the child.

"Section 12 does not talk about lateness. It introduces a concept of marriage and thus there is no late or postponed registration. The section simply tells women to bring the man or prove marriage even when he is unwilling which is impossible," Chigiti argued.

The lawyer argued that paternity cases would be cured if the law is framed in a such a way that the Registrar of Births can summon a runaway father and if he disputes siring the child, a DNA test is conducted in order for his name to be included in the birth certificate.

The court will rule on the case on May 11.

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