State Care or Legalized Kidnapping – Which side do You see it from?

January 4, 2017 OPINION/NEWS

By

Siddhartha Rastogi

Norway is a beautiful Scandinavian country encompassing mountains, glaciers and deep coastal fjords. Norway has been ranked No 1 in the world’s Prosperity index for Wealth & Wellbeing.

It’s a peaceful country where only ten police officers have been killed since World War II. Despite ranking high on the Human Capital and Social index, human rights activists have been at loggerheads with the Norwegian government on issues concerning child welfare.

In the last five years, three cases of Non Resident Indians have emerged where Norwegian authorities have separated the children from their biological parents on the charge of child abuse and have placed them in foster homes. As per Norway’s statistical data, upto the end of 2015, 2.90% of the total children in Norway received help or assistance from Norwegian Child Welfare Services.

Norway follows stringent rules when it comes to child wellbeing and places great importance on family ties and the child’s upbringing in a healthy atmosphere with their parents. It is one of the few countries which has adopted the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child into Norwegian law.

 

 

Some facts on Norwegian Child Welfare Act (NCWA):

 

The NCW Act is applicable to all parents living in Norway with their children, regardless of their residential status, religion and nationality. Child welfare cases are handled by the local child welfare services across all municipalities in Norway. Their job is to conduct family investigations in cases of child abuse. The Child Welfare Service is also known as Barnevernet. A Care Order is issued by the County Social Welfare Board or District Court only when the child is subject to serious neglect, maltreatment or abuse. Physical punishment of a child is completely illegal and schools are required to report such incidents to the government.

In a recent case, Anil Kumar, a NRI (Non Resident Indian) residing in Oslo, who runs a restaurant, and has also served as the Vice President of Overseas Friends of the BJP (ruling party in India) in Oslo, and his wife Gurvinderjit Kaur, have been charged with spanking and beating their one and only five and a half year old son, Aryan. They have sought help from the Indian Ministry of External Affairs to intervene and unite them back with their son.

Sushma Swaraj, Minister in India for External Affairs, after the request from the mother who is an Indian passport holder, has taken a tough stance and has instructed the Indian Ambassador to Norway to take every possible step to restore Aryan to his natural parents.

Aryan, who is placed in a child welfare home, has been suffering for the last fortnight or so since the time the Child Welfare department took his custody. They picked Aryan up at 9.30am on Dec 13th Dec 2016 from Kindergarten school without any prior information. On 19th December, when parents met the child at the Child Welfare home, parents were highly disturbed to see Aryan in the same undergarments and clothes he was wearing a week back when he was taken by the Child Welfare department. Seeing his parents, Aryan hugged them and cried profusely. As per the parents, Aryan is a fussy eater who only likes to eat Indian food and has been suffering from asthma and has not been eating bread and porridge given by the Welfare home.

It’s not a lone incident, two similar incidents have happened with Non Resident Indians in the past, when the Indian government has intervened and objected to the illegal custody by Norwegian authorities. Several other cases have been reported by the media in the past pertaining to other immigrants from other nations.

The biggest challenge with Norwegian Child Protective Services (CPS) is as per the law, NOT to publicly disclose the information they have, that led to the decision. This is done both to protect the parents and to protect the children from having intimate details about their domestic situation spread publicly. Another challenge faced by Child Protective Services is the lack of understanding of other cultures or religions.

 

In one of the previous cases in May 2011, Anurup and Sagarika (Indian Origin) lost custody of their toddlers – three-year-old Avigyan and one-year-old daughter Aishwarya – after Norwegian authorities objected to her hand feeding the baby equating it to force feeding. Norway’s Child Protective Services took equal objection to the child sleeping in the same bed as the father, insisting the boy must have an independent bed.

Barnevernet have a parenting attitude mainly toward foreigners. They respect them as long as they behave like any other Norwegian. But the moment they follow their own practices, they think, that intervention is a must.

In the war of cultures, children like Aryan, Avigyan, Aishwarya will have to pay the price and episodes like these would leave an indelible mark on their personalities.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Siddhartha Rastogi

Siddhartha Rastogi

Siddhartha was born to a learned middle class educated family in Semi Urban India. His father was an extremely honest man who because of his honesty had to pay the price in corporate world. Mother is a determined woman who ensured that children are being well taken care off. After a few years of birth, doctors called Siddhartha, a slow child having flat foot. He would fall more than he could walk. Determined mother ensured all therapies for her son to come out strong to fight the world. Siddhartha joined swimming when he was in 6th standard. Seeing other children of his class, he jumped in 10 feet deep pool and learnt swimming on his own, the very same day.

From that day there was no looking back. He topped his city in 12th and went to score highest in his B school exams. During his profession as banker, he became youngest branch manager of a MNC bank managing their biggest wealth branch in the country. There he found love of his life and got married. His love of his life emerged in the form of his daughter who completely changed him for good.

Siddhartha Rastogi is Director for a boutique Investment bank in India.

Siddhartha is a forward looking thinker & writer who has written a book on decision making. 8 Simple steps to effective decision making.

He writes on various social and current issues via his blog and can also be found on twitter.

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