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Wednesday, 29 April, 1998, 14:39 GMT 15:39 UK
No silly names, please! We're Peruvian
peru national dress
Names like Cut-throat and Conflict are now out of bounds in Peru
Peruvians are having to choose names for their children more carefully from this week, after a controversial new law banned the use of names considered ridiculous, offensive, or contrary to religious beliefs.

Parents also cannot give their child more than two names, because the Peruvian government says it causes problems in their computer records.

The law also bans parents from giving children names of the opposite sex.

Civil registry officials will decide which names are prohibited.

Opposition politicians and church leaders say the legislation deprives parents of freedom of choice.

"It is wrong that civil registry officials be allowed to determine what names parents can give their children," said opposition Congressman Henry Gustavo Manuel Serapio Pease.

What's in a name?

But the Peruvian government says the new law will protect children from the psychological damage caused by such recent names as the Spanish words for Cutthroat, Cuckold and Circumcision.

"People are giving their children names like H2O (the symbol for water) and Ebullicion ('Boiling' in Spanish) and this is going to hurt the child," said Justice Minister Alfredo Quispe.

The tendency among some Peruvians of giving their children misspelled foreign first names with traditional Incan last names is also under attack.

"If you name your child with a properly spelled foreign name, that's fine. But if the names are misspelled and put with Quechua Indian last names, such as Jhonny Mamani, it seems tasteless to me," said congresswoman and linguist Martha Hildebrandt.

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