The Right to have a name

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A name, this is an everyday word which we barely think about; having a name seems to be an obvious thing. Without a name, how do you talk about yourself, others, the things that surround you? How can we tell stories if we cannot name all the things around us, everything we see, everything we feel?

A name is therefore useful to help us describe things and people, our general environment; there are names for every living and inanimate thing.

A name has a story, a direction, a name comes from somewhere. In the beginning, a person would be called by a name, but this name would die with them, it would not be passed down to their children!

This is the system that existed until about the 5th Century, when the situation became unmanageable because too many people had the same name (Homonym) and it was difficult to identify people, therefore the practice of having a family name was established.

The family name is the origin of the surnames that people have, this is called a cognomen. Thus the family name originated from where a person lived, the job they had or even a physical characteristic (generally people of that era would make fun of people this way); a name could also refer to nature or the animals in the region.

Each name has the actual characteristics of its country of origin, for instance, in Scandinavian countries they add a suffix at the end of the name which shows that the person is the son of someone; in Denmark, family names often end with ‘en = child of’, for example, Jensen; in Spain, girls carry the family name of their mother and father.

Name, first name

The first name was added to the family name, because it is not possible to talk to a person by naming a group, therefore there are millions of first names throughout the world which can indicate, for example, that Meenakshi comes from India, Paolo comes from Italy, Lars is Scandinavian, Henry is British and Leila is Oriental. Obviously in our time, you can even find the same first names throughout the world because people travel around and have access to the Internet, which also helps cultures to travel.

If we have to go back in time, when writing became more common, each name acquired a way of being written, which also helps to distinguish between a Dupont and a Dupond or a Smith from a Smit. The system has been in existence for a long time, to the extent that it has reached a stage where people are not allowed to change their names and each person has to be officially registered, which means that every person has been recorded and legally exists in the eyes of society and the law.

It is important to have a name; because of it, others know who we are, who we come from and who our parents are. We can and should be officially registered with State services in order to be able to go to school, benefit from health services and demand the full enjoyment of all of our rights as human beings and citizens.

In too many countries, civil status services are collapsing and children do not have a legal existence (on this subject, see the case file on the Right to a Nationality), therefore they do not exist in the eyes of the law. They are therefore in great danger of being illegally exploited, whether this is through work, prostitution or all kinds of trafficking.

It is imperative that all children throughout the world are declared when they are born, because as soon as this formality has been established, their country should guarantee them all the rights that are granted to them in the United Nations International Convention on the Rights of the Child.

In ending, we need to point out that the marital status of a child’s parents should no longer be mentioned, because if it is indicated that a child is born outside of marriage (which in certain countries can be translated as ‘illegitimate child’), it can be a factor that causes serious (social as well as legal) discrimination against him or her.

To see the cartoon on the Right to a name, click here

To see the games, click here

To see the cartoon on the Right to a Nationality, click here

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