With vaccination cards made mandatory, many women and gender minorities are deprived of public service

For people to receive a proper identification card such as citizenship, they need to have a vaccination card and vice versa, which keeps them in a never-ending loop.

Photo: UNICEF

Anushka Nepal

  • Read Time 3 min.

Kathmandu: Nepal government recently made it mandatory for everyone to have a vaccination card to receive any public service around the country.

But many people, especially women and children, are deprived of proper identity and hence vaccination. In many cases, there are women whose husbands have abandoned them, leaving them with no marriage certificates and birth certificates for their children. This leaves them with no valid identity card, which is a requirement to get vaccinated against Covid-19.

There are also several cases where women get married without having their citizenship, which in turn restricts them from getting a marriage certificate. “There are many issues that arise for a married woman that keep them from getting citizenship through her parents,” said Meera Dhungana, an advocate and a legal officer at Forum for Women, Law and Development, an organization that protects and promotes human rights.

This also has an impact on the women’s children in the future, in terms of getting citizenship.

This has also affected transgenders and other gender minorities, those who have been deprived of a proper identity card because of their gender identity. To the ones who have an identity card, they face a problem during the vaccination process, leaving them without any vaccination card. “Many people from the trans community have stayed in line for hours but have not gotten a chance to vaccinate,” said Pradip Yadav from Blue Diamond Society (BDS), an organization that works on protecting and promoting queer rights.

Many transgender individuals lack citizenship because they are unable to go back to the family after their transition.

This has kept people without the proper identification in a loop that neither lets them get a vaccination card nor a proper identification. For them to receive a proper identification card such as citizenship, they need to have a vaccination card and vice versa. “This does not seem to help many people since there are approximately 1.5 million people who do not have a citizenship,” said Mohna Ansari, an advocate and a former commissioner at National Women Commission (NWC), a governmental organization that works for women’s rights in Nepal. 

This problem leaves women tied up to the place of violence with no way of moving forward in the path of justice.

“With women not being able to be present at their date of hearing of the court, there is a high chance of them losing the case,” said Dhungana. 

Besides that, the victims of domestic violence will be deprived of any facilitation they would gain from winning or even filing the case, leaving them stranded in the place of their victimization. 

According to a survey done by Women’s Rehabilitation Center (WOREC), an organization that works for the protection of women’s rights, among 600 women participants, 200 of them were deprived of a proper identity card.

Along with these women, there are many children in the streets of Kathmandu who lack an identity card. This keeps them from getting any facilities provided by the state, leaving them even more vulnerable. 

What does the law say? 

The Constitution of Nepal states that no citizen shall be deprived of receiving proper health services. But when it comes to vaccination, many people are deprived of this fundamental right. This fundamental right makes it mandatory for the state to make the vaccination easily available to citizens, said Ansari. 

Many transgender individuals lack citizenship because they are unable to go back to the family after their transition.

“If the state fails to provide the Covid vaccination easily to all the citizens, the state itself will be violating the fundamental rights of the citizens as mentioned in the constitution,” she added. “Also, people denying to give anyone the services provided by the state, like police services, will also be violating the constitution.”

This is unfair to people who are in desperate need of public services, Ansari said. 

Ansari further mentioned that before making the vaccination card mandatory to receive any form of public services, the government should have ensured that every citizen in the country had easy access to the vaccination. Also, she added that the supreme court has also declared a verdict to make the vaccination easily available for everyone. Unfortunately, however, that has not been carried through.

One of the solutions to this problem would be to make the vaccination easily accessible to everyone so that no one will have to go through the crisis of not receiving services from the public sectors, say experts. Or the government must remove the mandate until the entire population has been fully vaccinated.

Not ensuring that would only deprive people of their fundamental rights, and many would have to suffer from not getting proper legal services.

While trying to keep the population safe from Covid infection, there are many who have fallen victims to the unsafe environment within their own house and the society with no place to go for help.

On the other hand, people should also be more aware of these situations as well as about their fundamental rights, said Ansari. “We need to be aware enough to be able to question the government when our fundamental rights are at stake,” she said.

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