This post was originally published in Women's Web here.
A change of surname after
marriage for women should be a choice, not mandatory. Our society and
officialdom need to come to terms with this.
A lot has been
written about this topic in the past and the future will be no different.
Like most other girls
preparing to tie the knot, I also debated with myself, while doing the wedding
preps, if I should change by last name post-marriage. After putting in a lot of
thought behind this and taking a lawyer’s opinion, I decided that I shall stick
to mymaiden name post-marriage.
The reason was simple. My maiden name was my
identity for more than 25 years and I did not have the heart to adopt a new
identity at this stage in my life.
My lawyer advised
that in case I decide to change my last name, I would need to execute an
affidavit of the change and would need to provide the affidavit wherever I
submit documents with my maiden name on them, like all education certificates,
PAN card, driving licence etc.
could retain my maiden name and provide a copy of our marriage certificate
whenever I needed to prove my marital status – e.g. visa, address proof work
related, etc. Now, if I have to submit an additional document whether or not I
change my name, I would obviously, choose to keep my name unchanged.
The decision was taken
toretain my maiden nameand my husband was in favour of the
same more than I was. My husband lived in the USA at the time we got married
and my visa formalities as well as joint bank account opening formalities went
pretty smoothly. No eyes or eyebrows or fingers were raised!
A point to note here is that women do change
their surnames post marriage in all parts of the world (but it is a completely
personal choice). However, last year, when we moved back to India, I noticed,
every time I spelt out my surname (which is different from my husband’s),
people raise brows. It gets to me but I let it pass.
Recently I went to a
bank to open a ‘single’ account in my name. I submitted all required documents
relating to my identity as well as address (which have my maiden name on them).
Despite every document being in order, I was asked to submit a declaration that
I was married but I have chosen to retain my maiden name, along with a reason
for this decision!
I said it is apersonal choicebut was advised that it was not an
acceptable reason, though all my documents and certificates were in my maiden
name. The Customer Service Manager (I have nothing against her as she was
merely following procedure) asked me to declare that I retained my maiden name
for tax filing purposes. I needed to open this account and hence, submitted the
declaration but I still fail to understand why I was made to submit it!
Since it is not a
compulsion for women to change their surname post wedding, I fail to fathom why
question them when they don’t? Why does my identity need to change just because
I am married? I have nothing against people who believe that women should
change their surname post marriage but I believe that this is a personal choice
and should not be forced onto someone.
incidents in the past few months have raised a very important question in my
mind,“why can’t we, as a society, let
people make their own decisions and not be judgmental about such choices?”