Real lives

Real Lives


The dream of identity comes true

© UNICEF RD/L.E.González/2009

Every Dominican has the right to
Have a name
A voice

Santo Domingo.- Several mothers and children in Hermanas Mirabal province described the award of Birth Certificates at the Central Electoral Board as “the award of my birth”, while for others it was “my identity paper”. “This is a historic day”, said parents who received their identity documents during a recent event at the Central Electoral Board.

Although possessing a Birth Registration or Certificate is a person’s very first right, it is also a gateway to the right to health, to education, to choose and to be chosen, to get involved in the country’s activities and to develop in every sense of the word. The importance of having a birth certificate varies according to each individual’s needs.

For 32-year old Erica Román, the certificate means more than just a piece of paper. She says, “if I don’t have birth, I don’t have anything”, which is a way of saying that: “Whoever doesn’t have identity documents is a non-person”. Out of the two thousand people without an identity who have received their birth certificates in Salcedo, only she spoke of what it was like to live with six children without identity documents.

Mother of six children, wife, housewife, Erica is one of hundreds of people who dreamed of having their own identity: “I am happy now, before I was nobody, now I am someone else”, she says with complete satisfaction, while thanking the Juridical Office and the Late Declarations Unit for guiding her through the process.

Together with her husband, 29-year old Cristian Burgos, they work in farming in order to sell “things on the buses”. Their children, aged between 3 and 12, didn’t have birth certificates and she explained why she became interested in registering them for their identification “I got the certificate because the eldest is in 8th grade and they require a birth certificate for him otherwise he would not be allowed to keep on going to school”.

Her 8-year old daughter Emelinda is in 3rd grade in primary school and her favourite things are “cleaning, sweeping and washing” without being told to do so by her mother.

She said that a certificate will be useful when she is grown up so that she “can work”, travel and also because the school requires it in order for children to be able to continue their studies.

Travel and work
Nonetheless, for a young man of 18, who has just been issued his “cédula” identity card, a birth certificate is useful “for travelling”: “What I want to do is to travel like my dad”, said a 10-year old girl.

One of 18-year old Roberto Toribio’s main reasons for getting his birth certificate is that “my dad has it, he travels, but I don’t, you know – I know they only says he travels and that he can work with an ID document. Thanks to a friend of my mum’s – you know – they sent me to come here” to obtain his birth certificate.

Other children who were interviewed said that they needed a birth certificate to be able to work, never mind that without a birth certificate they could not study, vote, receive medical care, in all, a countless number of things that make up being a Dominican citizen.

In order for more situations like this to be addressed, the Children’s Rights Committee recently recommended that the Dominican government revise all its procedures to ensure that newborn children are given a birth certificate and -especially in the case of marginalised and vulnerable groups - that they are granted easy access to registration procedures.

A free and efficient procedure also needs to be set up in order to provide birth certificates to all children up to the age of 18 who still don’t have this document.

By Sarah Carrasco
June 2009



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