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CHILDREN WITHOUT DOCUMENTS

Nezaket Zeynalli

"My nanny tought me how to behaive, how to be thankful, how to clean the house and wash dishes."I always asked aunt Kamala (the head of orphanage) to find me a place for living. I didn't want to live neither with my mother, nor in the streets." 

Before getting into orphanage baby-sitter introduced Leyla's aunt and uncle and said that it is time to live with them. For short time Leyla lived at relatives houses, but soon she run away. 
Leyla was walking on Baku Boulevard in the evening when she met two strangers. They suggested helping her. "One of boys suggested to live with his family. He introduced me to his mother and sister. They were pleasant people. That same day I moved to their place, took a warm bath and went to bed."
Leyla noticed that the youngest girl, Gunay secretly went to nightclubs. “I saw Gunay messaging with a stranger. She warned not to tell anything to her brother, otherwise Leyla would end up in the streets. I needed a place to stay for nights and kept silent."
Gunay and her friend Alina applied to children orphanage to get identity documents for Leyla. There their plan regarding Leyla was soon revealed.

Head of Azerbaijani Children Union (ACU) Kamala Agazade remembers when she first met Leyla: "Little girl in heavy make up, wearing mini skirt and high heels was standing in front of me. The two girls wanted to involve Leyla in prostitution.”
ACU head person says that mostly children without documents came to the union from families with low income, born from unregistered and early marriages. "It is very complicated and long work to get documents for children without guardian like Leyla," says Kamala Agazade. 
"Last year we had more than 10 court cases related to birth certificates. We struggled to get fatherhood, find mothers’ documents, applied to court for getting alimony."

According to 2013 statistics, 172671 children were born in Azerbaijan, 25069 of them are children from illegal marriages. According to Family Code of Azerbaijan parents, who don’t present all necessary documents (medical certificate, parents IDs, parents’ marriage and birth certificates) to the registration department of the Ministry of Justice within a month since the childbirth, will be called to account.
The anonymous source from Ministry of Internal Affairs of Azerbaijan says that there is no official statistics regarding children without documents. " Migration between countries of Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), inside a country is a challenge for the state statistics. The information about children without documents is collected at the Executive Power Commission."
Executive director of Reliable Future Youth organization Kamala Ashurova sees a way out in educating parents. Sometimes state officials don't give necessary information to parents, says the director. 
"We have challenges in getting documents for children who have problems with fatherhood. For example, applicant's child is already 5 months old and baby has no documents. The mother can't get medical aid at the hospital. We consulted the parents and explained that they can apply any hospital in the area using hospital certificate about birth."
"Active migration is still an issue for Azerbaijan. In this case we need to gather exact data even by knocking on doors. At least we should start collection data from Baku. "If pregnant woman and woman in childbirth have no identity cards it is impossible to register child in "Electronic registration of new borns system." 
Children without documents could be victims of human trafficking, drugs and other crimes, says the official from Ministry of Internal Affairs. To solve the problem of children's registration Comission for Human Rights (Ombudsman) initiated new law amendment. Amendment obliges the hospital to present all necessary documents of new borned abandoned child to the local comission for children rights within 5 days. If child is found outside the hospital the person who finds a child must immediately inform local police.