Twitter users have criticized a policy approved by The National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) as sexist after a user shared a screenshot of a message from the government organization stating that her husband was designated as the head of the household.
The user criticized NADRA for not recognizing her as the head of the household and expressed concern about the policy’s implications for women attempting to escape abusive relationships, as their private information is being sent to their spouses without their consent.
Other women also criticized NADRA for refusing to acknowledge female agency and noted how the policy isolates single-parent households, particularly women who have escaped abusive relationships.
Passport office does the same. I applied for my daughter's passport and since my husband was abroad, they didn't submit the documentation and asked for "attestation" from any govt officer. Why a mother's signatures aren't enough to apply for her children's documents?? https://t.co/XkOjzvRGl2
— شانزہ (@shshshanza) March 29, 2023
I’m a single independent woman. When I went for my CNIC to NADRA they turned me away twice saying I need a to bring a man as my head of family. Eventually had to give up and take younger brother. Otherwise wouldn’t have been issued the card. https://t.co/bAmI7PgUuR
— amna alam (@beingamnaalam) March 29, 2023
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Imagine you are a woman who has escaped from domestic violence. You do not have your cnic and need a new one. You want to start khula process. When you apply Nadra notifies your abusive husband which makes it ten times worse for you! What the actual fuck is this process https://t.co/K9nzFMzrZg
— Meph⚓ (@UnitedsFreak) March 29, 2023
Several female tweeps shared their experiences of being turned away from offices when applying for their CNIC card, blaming the policy that demands a male guardian verify themselves as the head of their household.
NADRA responded by stating that the policy was designed to protect family data from unauthorized access, and they had decided to inform the family head about any procedures related to family data to preserve the integrity of family data.
It is one of the security features to guard family data from unauthorised access.
In order to maintain the integrity of family data, @NadraPak informs every family head about any processing through which someone becomes part of his family. 1/
— NADRA (@NadraPak) March 29, 2023
Twitter users bashed this response as regressive for refusing to acknowledge women as the head of their households.
Activist and researcher Ammar Rashid criticized NADRA for violating the privacy of women by leaking their data in this manner. Another user pointed out that married women are usually over 18, making them legally citizens with access to their own security features without having a man govern their changes to the card.
Maybe @NadraPak should try to institute measures to confirm identities that don't openly violate the constitutional right to privacy of adult female citizens? Other countries seem to be managing data security just fine without such archaic rules. https://t.co/xVuz5eVa50
— Ammar Rashid (@AmmarRashidT) March 30, 2023
The Chairman of NADRA, Tariq Malik, addressed the controversy in a tweet and clarified that the policy did not discriminate against women becoming the head of the household. Malik shared statistics that showed more women were nominated for this position than men.
He further revealed that the backlash to this policy has encouraged the department to reform it to prevent discrimination of any kind. Malik directed the Public Engagement Department to sit down with social scientists and subject matter experts to bring about reforms in policies and SoPs, welcoming suggestions.
Declaring head of family is self reported event. I have directed our Public Engagement Department to sit down with social scientists and subject matter experts to bring reform in policies and SoPs. Suggestions welcomed. We have revamped quite a few since a year. /2
— Tariq Malik ™ (@ReplyTariq) March 30, 2023
The policy to declare the head of the family is a self-reported event, and reforms in policies and SoPs are essential to bringing about equality and justice for all.
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