Cities campaign to cut cost of changing slavery-related names

The monument to slavery in Amsterdam's Oosterpark. Photo: Wikimedia Commons
The monument to slavery in Amsterdam’s Oosterpark. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Utrecht city council is willing to pick up the bill for people who wish to change their surname because of its association with slavery, website said on Tuesday.

Together with Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague, the city is campaigning to make changing a slavery-related name easier, and Utrecht is prepared to pay the cost itself if necessary, said.

Changing your name in the Netherlands requires a great deal of paperwork and costs at least €835. However, people who want to change their name because of its colonial roots have to undergo a psychological examination, which can also cost thousands of euros, said.

The money is not refunded if the request is refused.

Slavery-related names include those derived from Dutch names, such as Vriesde from De Vries or from Dutch and European cities. Some people are named after the plantation their ancestors were enslaved on such as Eendragt.

Last year, 2,863 applied to change their name, but just one request has been made in relation to slavery in the previous 12 months, said.

Utrecht said it expects to know in December how many people wish to change the name because of its origins.

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