Indian child rights activists demand better child adoption laws | Connect Asia

Indian child rights activists demand better child adoption laws

Indian child rights activists demand better child adoption laws

Updated 21 February 2013, 16:13 AEDT

Child rights activists in India are demanding a moratorium on inter-country adoptions until local Indian laws are made stronger to stop what amounts in some cases to child stealing.

Correspondent: Murali Krishnan

Speakers: Arun Dohle, Against Child Trafficking; Enakshi Ganguly, Director Haq Centre for Child Rights and parents, Lakshmi, Kathirvel

KRISHNAN: It was back in 1995, Lakshmi, a poor, uneducated villager from the south Indian city of Hyderabad last saw her daughters. Manjula and Bhagya were sent to an adoption agency on the assurance that they would get a good education.

LAKSHMI: A year later, I requested the agency that they be handed back to me, but was told that I would have to pay a huge amount of money for that. I don't know what they look like as the adoptive parents do not want us to talk to them. It has been 18 years and all we know is that they are abroad. I still long to see them but it has not happened.

KRISHNAN: The last Lakshmi saw her daughters was through a one-way window at the agency and was told they would study better if the daughters did not see the parents at all as it would upset them.

Local activists pitched in and helped locate the daughters as the agency had within a couple of years of the "adoption" sent them to the United States.

Like Lakshmi, another couple, Kathirvel and Nagarani, both daily wage laborers from south India, alleged that their son, Satish, was abducted by miscreants in March 1999.

They lodged a police complaint but nothing happened. Many years later they approached NGOs and finally got some help and they managed to locate their son who was adopted by a family in the Netherlands,

KATHIRVEL: I have been to Netherlands twice after spending so much money. I went there last in 2011 but the courts refused me to meet my son. What do I do?"

KRISHNAN: In May 2007, a Dutch TV program network published an extensive documentary

about the case of Nagarani and Kathirvel and other possible stolen children sent to the

Netherlands.

KRISHNAN: Another Indian mother, whose child was kidnapped and illegally adopted to Australia, has accused the country's officials and the girl's adoptive parents of blocking the now teenager from having contact with her and of making no effort to try and repatriate the girl.

Arun Dohle of Against Child Trafficking, a Brussels and Netherlands-based NGO says there is a widespread abuse in international adoptions.

DOHLE: Indian authorities need to be concerned as these are not the only cases. This is just a tip of the iceberg. But foreign authorities have to be concerned as they are on the receiving end and they trust Indian authorities which they shouldn't.

KRISHNAN: Dohle, himself who was "adopted" when he was a child, has managed to track down his biological parents a couple of years back and is trying to bring succor to families in India.

DOHLE: The basic profile of most of these children are they are from vulnerable families, and from vulnerable mothers. It is a vulnerable position that has been exploited and what goes generally wrong with exploitations. But these are cases of outright kidnapping and I mean poorer sections of society… most vulnerable people of course…

KRISHNAN: Over the past decade, scandals in Delhi and the Indian states of Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Tamil Nadu have exposed severe breaches of adoption protocol and claims by parents who have lost children to foreign families. The promise of profitable adoption fees motivates orphanages to create a steady supply of adoptable children.

KRISHNAN: Enakshi Ganguly is the director of Haq Centre for Child Rights

GANGULY: The first thing to do is to stop inter-country adoptions for the time being, put a moratorium on it, assesses the situation… replan and rethink. Why is it that we have to send our children out instead of looking after them in our own country? Look at what we are handling, we are handling parents who have lost a bunch of children. They are growing up in another country. Even if we bring them back, we don't know if they will fit here. All these parents are asking for is having one last look at the kids.

KRISHNAN: Following the high-profile cases of abductions, new rules are being sought to be put in place by the Central Adoption Resource Authority. The directive to agencies is to follow an 80-20 ratio between domestic and foreign adoptions. If an agency has 100 children, it has to place 80 of them within the country - and will lose its license if it fails to do so.

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