Fri, Jul 31, 2009 - Page 2 News List

Women’s groups slam ministry over certificate system

By Loa Iok-sin  /  STAFF REPORTER

Women’s groups panned the Ministry of the Interior (MOI) yesterday for a new household registration certificate system — which provides the complete details of a woman’s birth record on copies of the certificate — as a violation of privacy.

“Since March, we’ve noticed that the new system used by Household Registration Offices across the country prints out everything about a person — including all childbirths for a woman — when a copy of a household registration record is applied for,” said Wu Wei-ting (伍維婷), research and development director-general at the Garden of Hope Foundation.

She said that the new system has caused problems for women who did not want others to know that they had borne a child.

“We’ve sheltered women who have had children born out of wedlock, or who have borne children after being raped, and given the children away,” Wu said. “They don’t want anyone — especially future husbands — to know about these children.”

Although such information has always been kept in the ministry’s population database, it had not been included on household registration certificates.

“The new measure not only violates privacy, it can also damage a woman’s name, and affect a young girl’s future,” said Cheng Kai-jung (鄭凱榕), deputy secretary-general of the Taipei Association for the Promotion of Women’s Rights.

Wu said that women’s groups have met with ministry officials about the issue several times.

Officials initially insisted that including all births on certificates could help resolve inheritance controversies, because unlisted children sometimes appear after the death of their parents seeking to inherit property, Wu said.

“I don’t think it’s a valid reason to invade someone’s privacy,” she said.

Department of Population Director Hsieh Ai-ling (謝愛齡) told the Taipei Times that the ministry was dealing with the issue, but declined to elaborate.

However, Deputy Minister of the Interior Lin Join-sane (林中森) said the ministry had reached an agreement with women’s groups.

“We will still store the information in our database, but we will keep it confidential unless the person concerned authorizes its release,” he said.

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