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08.11.2007 Health

They don’t know their husbands’ names

A number of women who call at the various offices of the Birth and Death Registry in the country are said to be unable to give the full names of their partners during interviews for the registration of their babies.

They would, for instance, give the name of their partner as "Bra Kwaku", which information would be inadequate for the registration of their infants.

Other women are neither able to give information on the kind of work their partners are engaged in nor agree on the spelling of the names of their children.

During a visit to one of the registries at the Ridge Hospital in Accra, a mother who had come to register her infant could not give the name of her partner but said she lived in La and would therefore go home and come back with the required information.

She has two other children with that partner.

The Daily Graphic therefore contacted Mr Kingsley Asare Addo, Senior Assistant Registrar at the head office of the Birth and Death Registry in Accra, for information on the importance of registering deaths and births.

He said what the registry did in situations where the mothers are not able to give the names of their partners was to allow the mother to go back home for consultation but in some cases, they did not return.

He said if the mother was unable to tell who the father of the infant was, the registry would register the infant as one with "doubtful paternity".

Mr Addo said the ideal thing was to have the mother and father present during the registration but "the men seem to have left the registration to the women because they see it as a women's issue".

He described the situation as unacceptable, explaining that birth registration was very important because it established a legal identity for the child.

"Birth registration is the first legal proof that a child exists," he said.

Mr Addo said birth certificates also helped in the dispensation of justice. "It offers protection for the child because it becomes a legal document that would be a reference point for fighting forced marriages and child trafficking," he said.

In this instance, "the certificate would establish the child as a minor and the laws of the land can take their course," he added.

Apart from these benefits, the birth certificate facilitates enrolment in educational institutions, employment and recruitment into the security services, and the acquisition of passports and visas.

"If the employer uses the birth certificate as a reference point, there will be no argument on the date for proceeding to retirement for instance," Mr Addo said.

On death registration, Mr Addo said it was necessary because it was needed when making Social Security claims in the event of the death of a partner.

He said the certificate was also needed before the contents of a will would apply or the Intestate Succession Law under PNDC Law 111 could hold because it would be evidence that the partner was dead.

Giving some statistics, Mr Addo said the Birth and Death Registry had from January to June this year, registered 131,928 infant births.

Of this number, 67,858 were males while 64,070 were females.

Last year, 391,841 infant births were registered. The males were 201,369 while the females were 190,472.

Registered infant births for 2005 were 476,251.

The Birth and Death Registry has information on births in the Gold Coast dating from 1912.