China / Society

Mother fights for son's right to sign up for city residence

By Fan Feifei (China Daily) Updated: 2014-03-31 09:01

A Beijing single mother cannot register for permanent residence, called hukou, for her son because she can't afford the approximately 330,000 yuan ($53,255) social maintenance fee imposed on her for breaching the one-child policy.

The situation throws a spotlight on the plight of single mothers whose children were born out of wedlock.

The mother, Liu Fei (a pseudonym), took Beijing public security bureau's Fangshan branch to court on Oct 9, 2013, saying the branch's refusal to provide a hukou for her 8-year-old son Xiao Jie (again a pseudonym), is illegal.

On Feb 14, the court dismissed Liu's complaint and she lodged an appeal 10 days later.

The court insisted that paying social maintenance fees is a precondition for registration, according to the Beijing Population and Family Planning Regulations.

Liu and Xiao Jie's father had one child each from previous marriages before divorcing their respective partners. The couple lived together and Liu gave birth to Xiao Jie in October 2005.

The penalty for a breach of the one-child policy, according to Beijing police, can range from two to 10 times the offender's annual income.

Liu does not own any property and is not in stable employment.

The plaintiff's lawyer, Huang Yizhi from Beijing Ruikai Law Firm, said according to the Household Registration Ordinance and Nationality Law, the registration office should provide hukou for all Chinese citizens and not attach any conditions.

"The police refusing to issue hukou to the son is illegal," Huang said.

"It damages the child's rights to shelter and development, and also discriminates against children born out of wedlock."

There is no relationship between paying social maintenance fees and household registration, Huang added.

In China, a citizen's fundamental rights and social welfare are often based on hukou. If a person has no hukou, he or she will have difficulty enrolling at schools or universities or benefiting from social welfare, Huang said.

A law professor agreed that the child is entitled to a hukou and should be registered without any preconditions.

The child is innocent and his legal rights should not be deprived, Yang Zhizhu, a professor with the Law Department of the China Youth University for Political Sciences, told China Daily.

"It is not reasonable to link the hukou to social maintenance fees," Yang said.

"In some provinces, such as Jiangsu and Fujian, the children can get a hukou if their parents provide a birth certificate but, in Beijing and Shanghai, the local regulations are stricter and stipulate that the parents should pay social maintenance fees before they register hukou for their children when they violate the one-child policy."

Ma Jiantang, head of the National Bureau of Statistics, said that in 2011, according to the census, there were about 13 million people without hukou and most were children up to 6 years of age.

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