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Exposure Saves Family
January 29, 2012 permalink
Christopher Booker writes on the Indian family in Norway who had their children seized by child protectors. An international hullabaloo resulted in the return of the children to relatives in India. Secrecy in Britain leaves families helpless in the same circumstances. Booker's article is enclosed along with a recent Indian editorial on the Bhattacharya case. Norway social workers tried to get the parents to divorce as a condition of returning the children.
The difference between Britain and Canada? Canada has even stricter secrecy. There are no reporters in Canada doing the work of Mr Booker. We are left to Facebook groups as the only means for aggrieved families to communicate. Those outside the specialized communication channels know nothing of the hundreds of children seized needlessly every week just as in Britain. And just as in Britain, senior ministers can tout "best interest of the child", apparently oblivious to the atrocities taking place under their own watch.
The facts about child snatching can be reported in Norway - but not here
The international row over Indian children seized by Norwegian social workers serves to highlight the problems with our own child protection law.
The anger of the Indian government at the seizing of two young Indian children from their parents by Norwegian social workers has recently attracted the attention of the media around the world. The family were living in Norway, where the father works as a geoscientist, when local social workers removed their children, reportedly on the grounds that the son was allowed to sleep in his father’s bed and that the mother fed the children with her fingers (practices not uncommon in India). The parents were told that the children must be kept in care in Norway until they are 18 – although on Wednesday the authorities caved in and agreed that the children could live with their uncle.
What is striking about this furore is that such things happen here in Britain many times a week, with no publicity at all. In Norway, as in almost every other country, when children are seized for what seem inexplicable reasons, there is no bar to parents and children being named, or to aggrieved parents speaking to the press. But it was precisely this publicity, not least in India, which led to last week’s official Norwegian climbdown.
Yet here, thanks to the wall of secrecy with which our “child protection” system surrounds itself, none of this is possible. Day after day, as the number of children seized from families soars to record levels – nearly 900 a month – I hear accounts of the actions of social workers and courts which would profoundly shock the public if they could be reported. But, thanks to that wall of secrecy, a reassuring official impression is created which could not be further from reality.
Only last week, the BBC’s World at One asserted that “the majority of social workers say they feel powerless to intervene when they see children being neglected, because of insufficient resources and rigid rules about when they can step in”. This laughable claim was the prelude to another complacent interview with our children’s minister, Tim Loughton, who believes that the kind of stories I have frequently reported here are rare, untypical exceptions, and refuses to listen to the plethora of evidence to the contrary. I plan to provide yet more examples next week.
Source: Telegraph (UK)
Leave the kids alone, Norway
Shocking, but true. Barnevarne, a child care service of Norway, took custody of Indian children Abhigyan and Aishwarya from their natural parents Anurup and Sagarika Bhattacharya in May 2011 when they were two and-a-half years and six months old and lodged them in separate foster homes. It charged the mother Sagarika with “negligence and unable to bring up” the children.
A Norwegian court ruled that the two children would stay in two different foster homes until the age of 18 and their natural parents would be allowed to meet them only for an hour once a year.
Shockingly, the court adds that only if the couple separated, could the custody of the children be given to the natural father, who has been employed as a geoscientist in Norway. After an international media outcry and a personal meeting of grandparents Monotosh and Shikha Chakravarty with President Pratibha Patil to seek her intervention in getting their two grandchildren back from foster care in Norway, a headway is reported. Now Norway has agreed to hand over the children to their uncle in India.
Earlier letters sent to the Norwegian government by the Ministry of External Affairs on December 28, 2011, and January 5, 2012, did not elicit any response. With the visas of Bhattacharyas expiring in March, they dread leaving the country without their loved ones. The happening, sorrowfully true, is appalling.
Amid a false sense of euphoria as Norway has agreed to hand over the children to their uncle subject to a Norwegian district court accepting the arrangement, larger issues remain, raising disturbing questions. In upholding the applicability of Norwegian laws, Indian sovereignty cannot be subjugated to abdicate the majesty of Indian family laws. The precedent is, therefore, clearly wrong and this may not be a healthy trend for 30 million NRIs who live in 180 countries. In matters of local civil and criminal laws, Indians may have to follow the law of the foreign domicile, but in matters of personal laws in our homes, the exception of applicability of our family laws must prevail. The sanctity of the personal family laws of Indian communities is overriding.
Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Finland have stringent state welfare policies for their nationals which empower them to place children in foster homes to live with strangers. The Norwegian Child Protection Services, however, ought not to have exercised such rights over Indian children whose religious, ethnic, cultural and linguistic milieu was different and distinct.
In respect of Hindus, i.e. any person who is a Hindu, Buddhist, Jain or Sikh by religion, the Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act (HMGA), 1956, has extra territorial application. It also applies to Hindus domiciled in territories outside India. Thus, the Bhattacharyas carry with them their personal law in their pockets when they live in Norway.
Under HMGA, the natural guardian of a Hindu minor is his father and after him the mother. The custody of a minor child under five shall ordinarily be with the mother.
The process of appointment of guardians for minor children in India is governed by the Guardians and Wards Act (GWA), 1890. Surprisingly, since HMGA does not have any independent statutory provision for the appointment of guardians for minors, all parties, whether Hindus or non-Hindus, have to invoke the provisions of the GWA for appointment of a guardian for a minor child in India. Needless to add, this process is adjudicated by a notified guardian judge as the court of competent jurisdiction in the place where the minor ordinarily resides.
There is an explicit provision in the GWA that if the natural father is living, no one else can be declared or appointed the guardian of the minor, unless the court is of the opinion that the father is “unfit” to be a guardian. This process would of course be tested on the fundamental principle resting on what appears, in the circumstances, better for the welfare and in the best interests of the minor.
Applying European yardsticks of culture, habits and social mores to the Bhattacharyas who profess Hindu religion and cultural practices is not the correct application of the best interests principle for determining the welfare of the children. An overzealous Norwegian social set-up cannot change the personal law of the parties or usurp the interpretation of the principles of upbringing of Indian children and thrust in on foreign citizens domiciled temporarily in its territory. Furthermore, the yardstick to be adopted in such a determination is by adjudication before the competent courts under the HMGA read with the GWA. Any Norwegian court cannot close the rights of Indian parents until their children attain the age of majority.
The U.N. Convention of the Rights of the Child has been brutally offended in the children being confiscated and put in foster care. The Right to Family Life guaranteed by the European Convention of Human Rights too has been violated. The dilemma is international and the Nordic viewpoint needs to be tested. Forcibly removing children and putting them in foster homes and adoption to foreign parents whilst their natural parents are living are not in the best interest or welfare of the child. It would be best if Norway left the Indian children alone.
Source: The Hindu
As birth rates in many western countries have fallen below the replacement rate their populations are being gradually replaced by immigrants from other cultures. The editorial below views the child protection system is a way of oppressing the newcomers.
The horrors of the Norwegian Child Protection Service
Norway is in the news all for the wrong reasons. First it was the news of the horrific massacre of 76 young people committed by the Christian fundamentalist. The world has neither forgotten nor forgive Norway for the financial and diplomatic support extended to sundry terrorist groups all over the world in the name of identity politics. And now comes the screaming headlines about the "Child Protection Service". I think Norway is guilty of two basic infractions of the European charter. First, it has violated the principle that children have a right to develop their identity and the primary source of that are the parents. Second, child care is a sensitive issue and there are vast cultural differences in the way in which child care is delivered in different parts of the world. Norway's definition of child welfare is far different that the notions of child welfare in other parts of the world. As long as there is no evidence of outright violence against the child or gross neglect, the state does not have the Right to interfere.
The Norwegian Child Support Service seems to be targeting only non Nordic i.e specifically non white, Asian, Turkish and Indian parents. It is well known that the demographic profile of all Scandinavian countries is changing and that the immigrant population is rapidly increasing. Is this the reason why non-White parents are being targeted in Norway. The integrity of family life is being deliberately undermined by the Child Support Service, when children are forcibly removed from the protection and care of their parents. Rich parents are seldom harassed by the CPS.
The CPS hands over the children to foster parents who are paid 40,000 euros per year for the upkeep of the ward under their "care". Many Norwegians have taken to living off this money and some of the foster parents have even been found guilty of using the children for child pornography for which there is a huge market in Scandanavian Europe. The allocation for the children farmed out to foster parents has resulted in the biggest growth industry of Norway: the Child Protection Industry. I find the attitude that children are the property of the state highly repulsive and smacks of fascism and Norway is well known in history for playing host to various right wing ideologies.
The case which was highlighted in the Indian press was particularly disturbing. The 2 children of the Bhattacharya couple were removed because they did not have "appropriate toys" and because the mother fed the children by "hand". What is the Norwegian definition of "appropriate toy" and are not toys also culture specific. In India children sleep along with their parents almost until they leave home to get married. Does that constitute "child abuse". The worst part of this horrible system is that there is no appeal against the arbitrary and heartless system. The Bhattacharya couple had to seek the intervention of the Indian Government at the highest level in order to get their children back and as a "face saving " measure the uncle of the children will be given custody. In one notorious case a boy who was given to a foster parent arranged by the CPS has accused his "father; of sexually abusing him and other girls under his care. Now the courts are trying this case in Oslo.
I think Norway if it has to be treated as a civilised country needs to respect the right of children to their identity and childhood. The Gestapo mind set so strong in the CPS cannot be allowed to dictate such matters.