December 5, 2017
New Delhi, India
Indian weekly newspaper The Sunday Guardian’s series called ‘Global Child Rights and Wrongs’ in collaboration with Suranya Aiyar’s website, SAVEYOURCHILDREN.IN, has made the news for a second time in Norway, with this report in Resett on Christopher Booker’s piece in the Sunday Guardian of 2 December 2017 describing how and why British child protection services are confiscating record numbers of children from parents on inadequate and fraudulent grounds.
This is the second time that Global Child Rights and Wrongs has made the news in Norway. The first time was in early October 2017, when three-time elected veteran Norwegian Member of Parliament, Morten Orsal Johansen, contributed a piece to ‘Global Child Rights and Wrongs’ that was heavily critical of Norway’s child protection services. This piece was reported in the Norwegian online and print media. Norway’s child protection services are widely said to be removing children without justification and functioning like a “state within a state”.
Growing International Scandal of Unjustified Child Confiscation
The unjustified confiscation of children from loving families by Western governments in the name of “child protection” is a growing international scandal. However, very few Western journalists or politicians have taken an interest in this issue, as most of the families targeted come from the misunderstood and marginalised lower rungs of society in these Western countries. Yes, readers in India will be interested to learn that even Norway’s so-called “classless” society has an underclass of impoverished families, gypsies, ethnic and religious minorities (this includes Christians who do not belong to the majority Christian denomination in Norway) and working class immigrants, all of whom are disproportionately targeted by its notorious Barnevernet for forced child removal. In Britain too, the majority of those targeted for child confiscation are working class Britons, single mothers, parents with disabilities and impoverished immigrants from Eastern European countries.
Targeting of Disadvantaged Groups by Child Protection Services
Though the press in these countries often report drug use, domestic violence, and erratic and irresponsible behaviour from parents who are actors, artists, belong to royalty, or come from elite professional classes, such families almost never lose a child to child protection services. On the other hand, often based on hearsay alone, ordinary working class families in these countries are seeing their children taken in the thousands every year on such spurious grounds as “risk of future emotional harm”, “poor eye contact with mother”, parent’s allegedly “low IQ [Intelligence Quotient]”, parent’s being hostile to social workers investigating them, past drug use or past domestic violence by a former partner (as the parent is said to have poor judgment for having been involved with a partner that committed domestic violence on them).
Ignored and Vilified Western Parents Deprived of Their Children Turn to Indian Activists and Indian Media
Suranya Aiyar is contacted on an almost daily basis by desperate families from all over Europe, especially Britain and Norway, facing hostile and unfair investigations and “show trials” by the child protection system in these countries. Being in India, there is little Mrs Aiyar can do other than express her sympathy and solidarity as a mother and fellow human being. Yet the calls keep coming in because there seem to be very few people, if at all, in a position of authority or influence in these countries willing or able to even give these desperate parents a hearing. What is the worth of European or British social egalitarianism and welfare measures if people in these countries with authority and influence are happy to leave the less privileged to fend for themselves when facing what must be as desperate a fight as any that a parent could face – losing your child forever to the state?
The seriousness and finality of child removal by child protection services cannot be overstated. Children who are taken away are kept in secret locations with paid foster carers or adopted away to third parties. They are told that their parents don’t want them, even as the parents are doing everything to fight their removal in the courts and in public protests that happen almost weekly all over Britain, and several times a year in Norway. Once children are taken away, visitation is minimal. In Britain you may get an hour or so every month; in Norway merely an hour’s contact every six months. The relationship between parent and child is totally and deliberately broken by the state. Parents of children who are forcibly adopted to third parties have no contact with them and may not even know if they are dead or alive (some get an occasional greeting card or note updating them of their child’s progress).
Many of the parents contacting us do not even have the level of education or intellectual sophistication to clearly and coherently articulate the issues with child protection services. So much for universal literacy in these countries. How about equipping your citizenry to fight against the intrusive and hostile state? Many of the parents contacting us do not even understand the technicalities of child confiscation proceedings brought against them. How are they expected to respond to, let alone win such proceedings? This is no way to treat your underclass.
Western Media Fails to Expose Systemic Dysfunction in Child Protection Services
Not only are people in authority in these so-called developed Western countries not heeding parents from socially deprived backgrounds who are saying that their children are being wrongly removed by the state, there is very little interest in the Western media on this issue, except for the occasional sensationalised story which only serves to obscure the systemic problem with children being taken away on spurious grounds without a fair process of adjudication. Strict secrecy laws in Britain make reporting such cases risky for journalists. Confidentiality laws in Norway and Britain also result in journalists not having access to the full details of a case, which the child protection services adroitly exploit by making one-sided leaks and spinning the few stories that do get reported against the parents.
It is a sad reflection on the state of public scrutiny of child protection services in Norway and Britain that their senior MPs and distinguished journalists are having to write in the Indian media for this matter to get a hearing. Norwegian MP Morten Orsal Johansen’s piece was originally published in a local Norwegian paper, but was ignored by the other media until it appeared in the Sunday Guardian. It appears to be more newsworthy in Norway that he should criticise Barnevernet in an Indian paper than all the very serious charges he makes in that article against Barnevernet based on cases directly observed by him as a public official.
It is high time for British and Norwegian society to take responsibility for the mess they have created in child protection for the poor and the marginalised among them. Setting up “welfare systems” and allocating huge amounts of public funds is not enough – it is the duty of society to ensure that systems function properly and fairly, and that they are reformed or done away with when they malfunction as they are doing in the case of child protection services.