A local women’s rights group wants to publicize the fact that their children can take their mother’s surname at birth.
The Awakening Foundation yesterday urged the government to increase public awareness of the topic. Two amendments to the Civil Code’s (民法) Article 1059, passed in 2007 and last year respectively, allow a child to take the mother’s surname if both parents consent.
However, Chen Chao-ju (陳昭如), vice president of the foundation, said very few people know they have this option because the government has not publicized it well.
“It’s not like other public service announcements that you can see at a convenience store or before a movie at a cinema,” Chen said at a press conference. “It’s quite important and the public needs to be informed.”
Citing statistics provided by the Ministry of the Interior last year, the foundation said only 1.52 percent of newborns have taken their mother’s surname since 2007, when the first amendment passed.
Tradition probably plays the most important role in keeping this figure low.
“Changing the law may be easy, but changing customs and culture is a different story,” said Chen Hsiu-luan, a mother of two boys.
Her first born took his father’s name, while the second has hers.
Society still prizes sons over daughters because people think only sons can carry on the family name, the mother said.
“But to my husband and I, as long as the child is healthy, his -surname is not an issue,” she said.
In the beginning, Chen Hsui--luan’s parents-in-law found the idea difficult to accept, but now they are happy with the situation, she said, adding that her mother-in-law even dotes on her second boy more than the first.
The foundation encouraged more families to let one of their children use their mother’s surname so that the mother would not be left out and possibly feel like “an outsider” in the family.