Norwegian MP’s Article on Child Welfare Services in India’s Sunday Guardian Makes News in Norway

Frp-politiker til frontalangrep på norsk barnevern i indisk avis: – Det har blitt en stat i staten

October 2, 2017, Jonas Skybakmoen writing for the Norwegian news website, Filter Nyheter here: The report is in Norwegian, and this is a rough translation obtained through Google Translate.

Frp politician [makes] frontal attack on Norwegian child welfare in Indian newspaper: – It has become a state in the state

“Child welfare does not remove children from parents without reason, or do they?”, Asks Morten Ørsal Johansen in the current newspaper entry. Photo: Stortinget / Vincent Desjardins / Flickr

The Norwegian parliamentary councilor Morten Ørsal Johansen (Frp) had a Sunday message on the Norwegian Children’s Guard on Sunday Guardian Live.

 Under the title “Norway’s child-confiscating policies are disastrous, unjust,” the Frp politician writes that parts of the Norwegian child welfare agency do not comply with Norwegian laws and regulations and become a “state in the state” that only targets the most possible care services.

The post is a translated version of the politician’s readership to Gudbrandsdølen Dagningen from 6 September this year. He has himself granted permission to be published in English in India. On questions from Filter News if he thinks the text is a correct picture of the Norwegian child welfare for Indian readers, he answers the following by email:

– The chronicle is written for my local newspaper and addresses problematic conditions in child welfare locally. Several of the municipalities I write have received extensive criticism for child welfare practices in Norwegian national media, including TV2.

Filter News knows that state minister Solveig Horne (Frp) in the Ministry of Children and Equality is familiar with the party colleague’s newspaper posts in India, but she still does not want to comment on it. The Norwegian Children’s, Youth and Family Directorate, which is responsible for Norwegian child welfare, is also familiar with the post. Monday there was contact between the directorate and the ministry on the matter, but neither the directorate will comment.

The Sunday edition of India’s press release is part of the Sunday Guardian Lives series on Global Child Rights & Wrongs.

«India readers will be aware of a number of high-profile cases of Indian children being confiscated from their parents by Norway’s Child Welfare Service», is in the description of the series, presented in collaboration with the Indian activist Suranya Aiyar (43). She mentions herself [as] housewife, but has previously worked as a lawyer.

«Norway Steals Children»

Today, Aiyar operates the Save Your Children website, where she argues that child welfare in [the] current form needs to be resurrected and removed. On the phone from New Delhi, Aiyar explains that she started engaging in the Norwegian child welfare office almost six years ago.

From New Delhi, Indian Suranya Aiyar has engaged in the fight against the Norwegian Child Welfare. Screenshot from Facebook

I saw reports of an Indian family in Stavanger who had their children taken by child welfare. The children were at the same age as mine. I became engaged, both as a mother and a lawyer. It was about small children taken from their parents in a foreign country.The reaction from the Norwegian embassy in New Dehli was very cold-hearted and bureaucratic, she says to Filter News.

The case she talks about gained great attention in Indian media and led, among other things, to Indian authorities to contact the Norwegian authorities.

Last year, the Indian Embassy reacted strongly to a child welfare case in Norway.

Aiyar even came into contact with [the] mother in the matter from 2011-12 and dived further into the Norwegian and European system.

Through online activism – where she has, among other things, posted pictures of herself with posters saying “Norway steals children” – she currently has regular contact with Norwegians who are critical of child welfare.

Ørsal Johansen: – No knowledge of the series

Morten Ørsal Johansen says he received an email from Aiyar with questions about using the reading letter from Gudbrandsdølen Dagningen, which he accepted. On concrete questions from Filter News if he thinks the Norwegian child welfare system removes children from their parents “for no reason”– a rhetorical question he puts in the post – he answers the following:

The community is served by a broad debate on how we strengthen the quality of child welfare and, to a greater extent, use the family and children’s networks in cases where care is required. Child welfare should invest a lot more in prevention and help instead of taking of care.”

Do you think the Norwegian child welfare should be abolished?

“No,” answers Orsal Johansen

Do you think we need a different model than the child welfare model? Which?

-“We need a child welfare that works to a greater extent with prevention and support measures at home, as well as using the children’s family or network when care is the only solution, he writes.

The series in the Indian newspaper will, among other things, make readers aware of cases where Indian children are “confiscated” by the Norwegian Child Welfare. What do you mean about this series?

– I have no knowledge of the series. My chronicle is written for my local newspaper, says Ørsal Johansen.

«Norwegian MP tears into Child Welfare!»

Suranya Aiyar says to Filter News that she became aware of Ørsal Johansen’s readership via [her] Norwegian contacts, who believe that Norwegian child welfare acts aggressively and recklessly.

“I contacted Ørsal Johansen, who was very generous and gave his permission for us to print it,” says Aiyar to Filter News.

The English version of the Frp politician’s post has also been posted on the Facebook forum «Barnevernet vil vi ha fullstendig fjernet», which has more than 16,000 members since Sunday. Here the users discuss details in a wide range of child welfare cases relatively in depth.

Even Aiyar has posted a video entitled “Norwegian MP tears into Child Welfare!” On its websites, where Ørsal Johansen’s post is theme:

Posted image of Norwegian flag with chopping pie

– Opposite Filter News, Suranya Aiyar explains that she engages in child welfare in several Western countries, not just Norway. One of the reasons is that Western ideas about how child welfare is to be organized is about to reach India, where new policies have already been introduced in some areas, she says.

We must of course learn from how other countries have done this. But taking a child from their parents is perhaps the strongest expression of government power we have ever seen. To my dread, I have discovered that a similar system is being prepared in India, “said Aiyar.

You have posted pictures of yourself with posters saying “Norway is evil.” Why?

– I have reacted very strongly every time an Indian child has been taken from her parents. There was one such case in Norway last December. Norwegian authorities have reacted unfairly and basically. When the Norwegian Ministry of Industry visited New Delhi two years ago, I went to the embassy alone to demonstrate with posters.

On Facebook you have posted a picture of the Norwegian flag shaped like a swastika and the text «Stop nazi Norway». Do you think Norway is a Nazi country?

– Norwegian authorities are very authoritarian and reckless in child welfare issues. I hope you were not offended by the picture.

Have you ever been to Norway?

– No. But I have been engaged in child welfare cases for five years. And it is a worldwide movement that is critical of this. Among other things, there was several major demonstrations against this last year, says Aiyar, who wrote on [her] website that Norway’s notorious child protection agency, Barnevernet, is among the most unrestrained in removing children from families.

When Filter News asks Morten Ørsal Johansen if he shares this perception, the Frp politician answers that he has “little knowledge of other country’s child welfare”.

– The Norwegian Child Welfare is doing very well, but I am keen to raise quality and strengthen legal certainty, he writes.

Suranya Aiyar has posted more pictures on her Facebook page where she writes “Stop nazi Norway”, “Boycott Norway”, «Norway is evil» and «Norway steals foreign kids». What do you think about this?

 – That it’s unacceptable, says the Frp politician.

 In Norway, we have seen several cases that child welfare workers are threatened and harassed. What do you think about it?

– Threats are unacceptable.

What do you think of your own role in the relatively heated atmosphere of Norwegian child welfare workers?

– As a politician and ombudsman, I am keen to listen to people, and it is easy to be strongly affected when it comes to children. But the debate is served by taking it in neat forms. Nevertheless, it is important that we take the debate on how we strengthen the quality of child welfare, because only such things can be better, writes Ørsal Johansen.

Horne: – To strengthen children and parents’ rights

The criticisms of the Norwegian child welfare have come from a number of places in recent years. Last year, several thousand people protested against Norway in the United States, Canada and eight European countries. The background was a child welfare case involving a parent couple related to Romania. In London, the message was that the Norwegian authorities had to “bring the children back to the family”.

Earlier, Czech President Miloš Zeman also compared the Norwegian child welfare services with the Nazi Lebensborn program during World War II, where “racial” children born out of wedlock were adopted to German parents.

Although the State Secretary Solveig Horne (Frp) does not want to comment on the specific post from Morten Ørsal Johansen- and thus will not respond if the MP’s post is in line with the party’s or government’s policy – she writes via the ministry’s press service that the government has recently “proposed several amendments to the child welfare act that will strengthen both the children and their parents’ rights and we are working on promoting a whole new law.”

The Norwegian Public Health Authority has also been commissioned to review a range of child welfare cases that have led to emergency measures or taking care of care. The review shall provide both knowledge of failure and the characteristics of matters that have been treated in a professional manner. This will provide valuable knowledge that we can use to further develop child welfare, it is stated in the epost.