This, according to the BBC, constitutes a “Handmaid’s Tale” moment:
Dr Acosta, who is chief executive of the Young Women’s Christian Association, and her daughter had been on a tour of Europe when they arrived back to Texas on Sunday.
“There was a huge line of people,” Dr Acosta said. “We walked up to the customs officer. He lifted our passports.”
Dr Acosta said her daughter was “like velcro” with her as she was very tired after a long flight.
“I was asked if Sybonae was my daughter and I said yes. Then they asked why, if she was my daughter, I didn’t have the same last name.
“I told them I had already established my career and earned my doctorate with my last name Acosta so I had decided not to change it.
“One said I should consider changing my name to reflect that I am her mother.
In some countries – Russia, for example – it is forbidden for a parent to take a child abroad without the written permission of the other parent. This is to stop one parent from just disappearing overseas with the children. As a policy, it’s sound enough, and the expats with kids in Russia soon got used to it. The US doesn’t expressly forbid lone parents travelling abroad with their children without such a letter but:
A CBP spokesperson said: “We strongly recommend that unless a child is accompanied by both parents, the adult travelling with the child have a note from the child’s other parent.”
Dr Acosta says she didn’t have a note from her ex-husband. And she was taken into a separate area for questioning.
Again, rather routine and sensible. And if the mother had a different name from the kid, how are they supposed to know the child is hers? Hence the questioning.
“They thought I might be a human trafficker,” she said.
A CBP spokesperson said: “On December 23, 2008, President Bush signed the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 to combat human trafficking.
“In instances where the relationship of a minor and accompanying adult can’t be immediately determined, CBP may ask additional questions to determine relationship.
A bit of a pain, maybe a little humiliating, but hardly the stuff of dystopian nightmare depicted in The Handmaid’s Tale. But her reaction speaks volumes:
“I proceeded to tell them that they were perpetuating an institutionalised, misogynistic system which required that a woman take her husband’s name. I am furious.” Dr Acosta said.
Oh please. Your daughter has her father’s name. Why? Are you perpetuating an institutionalised, misogynistic system?
Dr Acosta said her “biggest fear” was her daughter would be separated from her.
I doubt that: if you were, you’d not have gone off on a rant about institutionalised, misogynistic systems which require that a woman take her husband’s name: you’d have answered the questions calmly and rationally. You might also have foreseen the difficulties of travelling with a minor who does not share your name, and obtained a letter from your ex-husband.
One Facebook user wrote: “You should be furious. What if she had been adopted or you had remarried? I did not take my husband’s last name either and it infuriates me when people imply I am less of a wife for not changing my name!”
You may do what you like with your name, but if you’re travelling alone with a child whose name doesn’t match yours, expect trouble at borders.
A CBP spokesperson said: “We strive to ensure that travellers are processed fairly and efficiently, as we endeavour to make certain that all individuals attempting entry into the United States do so in a legal and secure manner.”
Handmaid’s Tale, indeed. Shame on the BBC for publishing this crap.