This morning’s newspaper brought the interesting news that
“a 15-year-old Icelandic girl is suing the state for the right to legally use the name given to her by her mother.
Apparently, Iceland has specific rules regarding what names can be given to a baby. There are 1,853 female names and 1712 male names that parents can choose from.
The girl in this case was named ‘Blaer’ by her mother. Blaer means “light breeze” in Icelandic. At the time her mother had no idea that this name was not on the list approved by the government, neither did the priest who baptised her. They found this out only later.
Blaer is identified as “Stulka” – or “girl” – on all her official documents which has led to years of frustration as she has had to explain the whole story at the bank, renewing her passport and dealing with the country’s bureaucracy.
Here’s hoping that Blaer wins her case and gets the right to keep her given name
One might not agree that governments should have the right to place restrictions on what parents can name their children. However after reading this article yesterday, I have to admit that some parents do come up with some pretty outlandish names.
The article mentions some unusual and in some case even inappropriate names given by parents to their children. In many cases parents got their inspiration from technology.
There’s kids in Egypt called Twitter and Facebook. In the US other tech inspired names include Google and less glamorously, Excel.
Five families decided to call their new daughters Moo. Five boys were called Burger. Other names include Notorious, Marvelous, Brilliant, Famous, Beautiful, and Cyncere.
I remember reading a disheartening news report a couple of years ago about girls named “Nakoshi”.
In Satara district in Maharashtra, India, district health officials noticed that many girls were named ‘Nakoshi’, which means “unwanted”. A survey was undertaken which showed that this was a widespread practice- 265 girls named Nakoshi were found in this one district.
Owing to a “tradition” that reflects gender bias, several parents in the region have named their third or fourth daughter Nakoshi, in the hope that the next child will be a boy.
Last year a renaming public ceremony was organised and all the 265 girls got rid of the humiliating name of “Nakoshi”, and received new names.
Of course, changing the mindset of people is a much more difficult task than merely changing a name. But, as Satara District Health Officer Dr. Bhagwan Pawar said-
“It might not change the sex ratio of the district drastically, and the mindsets of people will take years to change, but this is one way of telling our girls that we need them, and they are indispensable in our lives.”
Let us hope that changing the names of these young girls will encourage a change in the attitudes of their families too.
Shakespeare said that ‘a Rose by any other name would smell as sweet’. That may be true. However, I think that the flower in question would rather be named ‘Rose’ and not ‘Thorn’!