Women may be increasingly likely to keep their own surname after marriage, but society is sure as hell taking an inordinate amount of time to catch up with this trend. Married women with different surnames to their husbands still report feeling judged by those with a more traditional stance on the matter.
When children are thrown into the mix the situation gets even more complicated, as one Labour MP found recently when she was stopped with her daughter at UK border control because she didn't have the same surname in her passport as her baby daughter. Tulip Siddiq, the MP for Hampstead and Kilburn, is calling for children's passports to be changed so that they contain both parents' names to avoid complications at borders and airports, the Guardian reported.
Siddiq was coming back from a family holiday in France with her husband, Chris Percy, and 18-month-old daughter, Azalea, when the couple were separated and she boarded the Eurostar with her pushchair via the fast-track queue. While Siddiq got through French border control with no problems, the UK border staff stopped her before she could board the train.
“My daughter looks quite different to me, she looks like her dad,” Siddiq told the Guardian. “At the UK border the man looked at my passport for a long time and my daughter’s passport and he said: ‘Who is this girl?’ I was really surprised by the question, and he repeated it, and I said: ‘This is my daughter,’ and he asked why we don’t have the same name. He also asked for my marriage certificate and my birth certificate."
There followed "a lot of discussion, and other asks for documents", she said, adding that the "air of suspicion" left her feeling uncomfortable. "I was made to feel like I had done something wrong, And they said I could leave my child with them when I went to look for my husband.”
The confusion was resolved once Percy joined them. Siddiq continued: "I do wonder what would have happened if my husband hadn’t been there. My daughter and I do travel on our own. What would have happened next? Would they have let us go?”
The current regulations are in place to prevent people trafficking, child sexual exploitation and other crimes committed against children, according to the Home Office. A spokesperson told the Guardian: "That is why Border Force staff need to determine whether the adult travelling with the child has parental responsibility or parental authority had been given to travel with the child.
“We aim to do this quickly and with as minimal disruption to passengers as possible and that is why we encourage all parents to make use of the ‘Emergencies’ page in their child’s passport where names and contact details of parents can be written.”
Siddiq found that over the last five years around 600,000 women had been asked to prove they were related to their children at UK border control, with many being delayed for hours if they were travelling without their spouse or with no marriage or birth certificate to hand. Siddiq's proposed change of writing both parents' names in their child's passport would give women reassurance and wouldn't require legislation, she said.
Women have shared their similar experiences on Twitter, with many throwing their weight behind Siddiq's plea.
Others agreed that children's passports should be updated to reflect the reality of family life in the 21st century.