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“I don’t have to worry anymore because I am not registered”

Dokkaw* was one of the two million stateless people living in Thailand. At 15 years old, she just got her ID and access to her rights.

birth registration She is from the Palong minority, living in the north of the country, in the mountains near the Myanmar border. Like many hill tribe people in the Northern provinces, her parents did not register her when she was born. When she asked them why, they could not answer. “I think that they just did not know. I was born at home, my parents should have been to the official office within 15 days to register my birth. They did not, it is the reason why it was so complicated for me after to get anywhere, I was not authorized to go out of Chiang Rai province.

Sumit, Birth registration specialist at Plan International explained that “In 2008, the Thai government amended the country's law on civil registration to allow all children born in Thailand, regardless of the legal status of their parents, to receive birth certificates. However, lot of Ethnic minorities (Aka, Palong) didn’t know that they have to register. After these 15 days, they will have to prove that the birth was in Thailand (DNA test, witness testimonies…).  Without birth registration, people don’t have access to their rights. They don’t receive welfare services, they cannot go out of the province. They cannot work or they don’t get the average wage, just half.”

Dokkaw is sponsored by Plan International, and she has participated in the activities organised in her community. That is how she learned that she could access to birth registration and after to an ID.

It was a difficult process: because my parents did not get a birth certificate in the hospital or register me at this time, so we had to find proof. My Grandmother was a witness, she testified and I finally got a birth certificate. And as I was living for more than 15 years in Thailand I could apply for citizenship.

I will now be able to apply for normal job and not be paid half wage!

To guarantee children their right to identity and citizenship, Plan International does awareness in the communities about birth registration, develops the capacities of volunteers and officers in charge of registration, provide translators in ethnic languages, help to find witness to prove the birth in Thailand, pay for some expenses (DNA test for example)…

Dokkaw is not an isolated case, three of her friends are currently under the same process but lot of children in the community are still not registered.

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The Birth registration project is taking place in 148 communities in Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai Provinces. Since the beginning in 2012, 38,000 individuals have received support from Plan International and every year 2,500 people get registration.

 

* Name has been changed.