Tuesday, March 13, 2012

484 Children removed in Norway because Indian parents were feeding them with hands (not spoons) and sleeping in same bed

Children removed in Norway because Indian parents were feeding them with
hands (not spoons) and sleeping in same bed

(1) Children removed in Norway because Indian parents were feeding them
with hands (not spoons) and sleeping in same bed
(2) Kids separated after social workers discovered they were being fed
by hand and shared bed with parents
(3) 5-month baby girl was being breastfed when removed from mother
(4) Cultural Imperialism of Norway's all-embracing Nanny State
(5) India to intervene in 'cultural' child custody case
(6) Separating kids from parents unjustified: India tells Norway
(7) Norway agrees to hand children to their Uncle
(8) Parents & kids to return to India: "I don't want to stay in Norway

(1) Children removed in Norway because Indian parents were feeding them
with hands (not spoons) and sleeping in same bed


Indian couple have children taken away by Norwegian social workers
because they fed them with their hands

Authorities also complained that the parents should not be sleeping in
the same bed as their infants


Last updated at 9:13 AM on 19th January 2012

An Indian couple have had their children taken away by Norwegian social
workers because they were feeding them with their hands and sleeping in
the same bed as them.

Anurup and Sagarika Bhattacharya lost custody of their three-year-old
son and one-year-old daughter eight months ago after authorities branded
their behaviour inappropriate.

The drastic measure led to intervention from the Indian government who
contacted Norwegian authorities in an a desperate attempt to return the

Norwegian Child Protection Services removed the youngsters from their
home in May, 2011, leaving their parents horrified with the outcome of
the report.

Father Anurup told Indian television channel NDTV: 'They told me "why
are you sleeping with the children in the same bed?".

'(I told them) this is also a purely cultural issue. We never leave the
children in another room and say goodnight to them.'

Anurup added: 'Feeding a child with the hand is normal in Indian
tradition and when the mother is feeding with a spoon there could be
phases when she was overfeeding the child.

Authorities complained that Anurup, seen here with his son, should not
have been sleeping in the same bed as his eldest child

Mrs Bhattacharya said: 'My son was sleeping with my husband. They said
he should sleep separately from your son.'

The parents have been told that they can only see their children twice a
year, for an hour during each visit until the kids turn 18 when they
will no longer be bound by the current restrictions under current
Norwegian law.

Despite the Indian government's intervention, Norwegian officials are
refusing to meet the request for any further explanation.

Norway's Child Protective Service has come under much scrutiny in the
past for excessive behaviour in their handling of child cruelty.

Lawyer Svein Kjetil Lode Svendsen said: 'There has been a report in UN
in 2005 which criticized Norway for taking too many children in public

'The amount was 12,500 children and Norway is a small country.'

With the Bhattacharyas' visas set to expire in March, they have revealed
that they will be forced to stay against their will until the return of
their infants.

(2) Kids separated after social workers discovered they were being fed
by hand and shared bed with parents


Norway kids row: 'Children were living in sub standard conditions'


Last Updated 09:54(26/01/12)

New Delhi: As the Indian couple in Norway inches close to the end of
7-month ordeal for the custody of its children, the Norwegian
authorities said that they are always committed to finding a solution
that will be in the best of the children.

In a press release issued by the Child Welfare services, Norway, the
authorities denied the case to be based on cultural insensitivity or

Gunnar Toresen, Head of Child Welfare Services in the release said, "As
head of the Child Welfare Services I most strongly deny that this case
in any way is based on cultural prejudice or misinterpretation. I am
unable to give any comments regarding the particular grounds in this
case because of our duty of confidentiality."

"The Child Welfare Service has a responsibility to intervene if measures
in the home are not sufficient to meet a child's needs. The act lists
strict conditions for when a care order applies. Examples are when a
child is mistreated or subjected to other serious abuses at home, or
when there is every probability that the child's health or development
may be seriously harmed because the parents are incapable of taking
adequate responsibility for their child," Toresen said.

He also underlined that the Norwegian Child Welfare Act applies to all
children in Norway, regardless of the child's nationality, citizenship
or cultural background.

The Norwegian government has agreed to return the children to their
uncle Arunabhash Bhattacharya, but will take assurance from the family.
The solution was arrived at after India took up the issue with Oslo at
the diplomatic level.

The Norwegian authorities signed an agreement with Anurup and Sagarika
Bhattacharya, the parents of the children, and the Indian government on

Notably, the Norwegian Child Protective Services had separated the kids
from their parents after discovering, during an inspection, that they
were being fed by hand. That according to the Child Protective Services,
was force feeding. Also, they shared bed with the parents, which was
deemed unacceptable behaviour, as the boys are expected to have separate

Barnevarne (Norwegian Child Welfare Services) claimed that the children
showed emotional disconnect with parents. Child Welfare had put the
children in foster care as per the directives of the local Norwegian court.

The couple has appealed against the court decision Anurup and Sagarika
Bhattacharya lost custody of three-year-old Avigyan and one-year-old
Aishwarya after Norwegian Child Welfare Services deemed that the
children were not receiving proper care.

The decision to remove the two children from their parents' custody was
taken by the County Committee on the 28th of November.

"All decisions to remove children from their parents' custody are made
by a family court (County Committee) based on an assessment from the
Child Welfare Services and hearing from the private party (the
parents)," he said.

(3) 5-month baby girl was being breastfed when removed from mother


NEW DELHI, January 27, 2012

End sufferings in Norway, activists urge child rights panel SPECIAL

Women's groups and child rights activists have urged the National
Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) seeking its
intervention in securing the custody of the two Indian children who have
been in foster care in Norway for the past several months.

In a letter to NCPCR Chairperson Shantha Sinha, the groups have asked
her to contact the Child Welfare Services in Norway to ensure that the
children do not suffer from any further violation of their rights.
"Towards this end, we request you to ensure that the children's return
to India is expedited, and their long separation from their parents at
such a young age remedied without any further delay."

A joint delegation from a number of national women's organisations and
child rights groups also met the Deputy Chief of Mission in the
Norwegian Embassy and handed over a memorandum. The delegation was
assured that the children would be handed over to the extended family
based in India and that the process of repatriation had already begun.
The team impressed on the authorities the need to implement this
decision without delay.

Pointing out that the chairperson of the Child Welfare Services in
Norway had denied the charges of 'cultural bias' and asked another
'independent expert' to examine the matter and the condition of the
children, the women's groups said such a step could not resolve the
abrogation of rights arising from differing cultural perceptions.

"Violation of rights"

"While we are not going into the intentions of the child protection
authorities in Norway, we are concerned about the imposition of
Norwegian cultural norms on foreign citizens. We feel that the action
taken by the Child Welfare Services has resulted in a violation of the
natural rights of Aishwarya and Abhigyan. A little girl has been removed
from the mother's custody when she was just five months old and was
being breastfed. For eight months, the mother has had to go to the child
care centre every day to give her breast milk in a bottle for the baby
but she has not been allowed to feel or even see the child. These
actions amount to cruelty and gross violation of both human rights and
child rights," the letter said.

The grandparents of the children, who had rushed to Norway on hearing
the news, made the request that the children be handed over to them and
that they would take responsibility for them, but this was denied. It
was only after the issue was raised by the parties concerned and then
taken up by the government did the Norwegian authorities now reconsider
the decision, and reports indicated that the children were to be handed
over to a family member, the letter said.

The letter was signed by the former MP Brinda Karat, Sudha Sundararaman
(All India Democratic Women's Association), Sehba Farooqui (Delhi
Janwadi Mahila Samiti), Jyotsna Chatterjee (Joint Women's Programme),
Pramila Loomba (National Federation of Indian Women), Leila Passah
(Young Women's Christian Association), Mary John (Centre for Women's
Development Studies), Awadhesh Yadav (Forces), Dr. O.P Kulhari, Azra
Abidi of the Muslim Women's Forum, Nirantar — Centre for Gender and
Education, community paediatrician Vandana Prasad and Sharla James of
the Guild of Service.

(4) Cultural Imperialism of Norway's all-embracing Nanny State


Inhumanity in Norway

Jan 27, 2012

Swapan Dasgupta

Asian Age, India

Saturday Jan 28, 2012

In the matter of bringing up children, what the Norwegian authorities
are demanding is not emotional sustenance but homogenisation

The establishment of an all-embracing "nanny state" has been a cause of
concern to many sensible, right-thinking citizens of the European Union
(EU). In Britain, to cite just one example, there is anger and
exasperation over the way apprehended illegal immigrants have been able
to avert deportation by falling back on the EU's human rights
legislation. The so-called right to family life has been successfully
used by those who have broken the law to prevent constituent nations
from acting against them. So absurd is the situation that illegal
immigrants were even able to cite the ownership of a cat and membership
of a local cricket team to earn for themselves the right to stay in a
country where they had overstayed their welcome.

It is against this bizarre backdrop of an over-regulated state, replete
with gratuitous codification of daily life, that we must view the
strange case of Anurup and Sagarika Bhattacharya, Indian citizens
resident in the Norwegian town of Stavenger.

In May 2011, the child welfare department of the town took the couple's
two children, a son aged two and a daughter then barely five months old
into custodial care. The Bhattacharyas were accused of dereliction of
parental responsibilities.

What were the faults of the Bhattacharyas, a normal middle-class couple
with the husband working as a geo-scientist with Halliburton, a
well-known US company? In the courts where the case was heard, the
account of parental negligence was provided. These included the absence
of separate rooms for the children, the lack of appropriate toys, the
absence of a separate diaper changing table and the fact that the son
slept in the same bed as the parents and was fed by hand — which
allegedly amounted to "force feeding". The mother was also guilty of
breast feeding the daughter in an unsuitable way. According to a report
in an Indian newspaper, filed from Oslo, the authorities argued in court
"that when the mother breast-fed the infant, she put her on her lap
without holding her, holding the head against the breast but not close
to her body". Taken together with the fact that the mother had admitted
to once slapping her son — a prohibited act under Norwegian law — the
Child Welfare Service concluded that the mother failed to look after the
children's emotional needs. The larger interests of the children, it
felt, were better served by placing them in foster homes.

The city court of Stavanger agreed with the Child Welfare Service and
sent the children to foster homes. As an act of generosity, it allowed
the parents to see their children — one of whom was still being
breast-fed — twice each year for two hours. In a further revision by the
Country Board of the Child Welfare Service it has now been stated that
the children must remain in foster homes till they are 18 years of age
but would be allowed to spend three hours each year with their parents
in three separate visits of an hour each.

The sheer inhumanity of the Norwegian state defies belief. What happened
to the Bhattacharyas is not merely the result of the perverted thinking
of authorities that believe they know better than the natural parents of
children. It is also an outcome of insular Europeans not knowing and not
bothering to appreciate the fact there is no prescribed way of bringing
up children. That a child does not have a separate room and the fact
that diapers were changed on the bed rather than on a table of a
prescribed size are niggling issues. These have more to do with their
parents' financial priorities than a bid to wilfully scar the children
emotionally. Indian children routinely share a bed with their parents or
grandparents. This is often a function of space or gestures of affection
and they haven't resulted in India becoming a nation of the emotionally
traumatised. Equally, if feeding a child by hand constitutes an inhuman
act of force-feeding, more than 95 per cent of Indian parents would be
found guilty of cruelty. Norway cannot dictate how an Indian family
chooses to eat. By this absurd logic, Westerners in India should be
advised that toilet paper is unhygienic and environmentally unsound!

Like many prosperous but insular countries, the authorities in Norway
possess an infuriating sense of sanctimoniousness, believing that their
habits, customs and worldviews are the only routes to well-being. There
is no common sense view of right and wrong. In the matter of bringing up
children, what the Norwegian authorities are demanding is not emotional
sustenance but homogenisation. These are the hallmarks of a totalitarian
system that believes children belong primarily to the state. Norway is
not a totalitarian state but its social codes resonate with checklists
of uniformity.

It is heartening that the Government of India has responded to the sense
of outrage at home by summoning the Norwegian ambassador to South Block.
It is said that a solution may be worked out with the grandparents of
the children giving a helping hand to the Bhattacharya couple.

In other words, Norway will be given a face-saving way out that stops
short of its authorities admitting that what happened to the
Bhattacharyas was a gross violation of their human rights, particularly
their right to a family life and their right to pursue cultural
practices. India has a moral duty to rescue two of its children who have
become victims of judicial abduction.

The writer is a senior journalist

(5) India to intervene in 'cultural' child custody case


Posted on27 January 2012

Ice News

The Indian embassy is attempting to secure the return of two toddlers,
who their parents say were taken away from them in Norway due to
"cultural differences".

The Indian children, aged one and three, were put in foster care last
May because Norway's Child Welfare group deemed that their parents were
not taking "adequate responsibility".

The couple, Anurup and Sagarika Bhattacharya, say they are "devastated"
and that the decision was based on cultural differences such as sleeping
in the same bed as the children and feeding them when they cry rather
than at set meal times.

Anurup Bhattacharya, who has worked as a geo-scientist in Stavanger
since 2007, told the BBC, "We have been honest and perfect parents.
There could be upbringing issues because of cultural differences." He
added, "They asked the mother to breast feed baby Aishwariya at
scheduled times as a routine instead of feeding her when she cried as is
the practice in India."

Barnevarne, the Norwegian Child Welfare Services, however, claims the
couple were emotionally disconnected.

The controversial decision has caused the Indian government to seek an
"amicable" solution. It is believed that SM Krishna, the Indian Foreign
Minister, is hoping to meet with Jonas Gahr Støre, his Norwegian
counterpart, to arrange the release of Abhigyan Bhattacharya and his
younger sister Aishwarya.

"We are in touch with the Norwegian government and we are hopeful that
an amicable settlement of this question could be arrived at," Mr Krishna
told reporters. "Whatever support is needed under the circumstances will
be provided to the Indian couple," he added.

Head of Child Welfare services in Stavanger, Gunnar Toresen, said the
group has "a responsibility to intervene if measures at the home are not
sufficient to meet a child's needs. Examples are when there is every
probability that the child's health or development may be seriously
harmed because the parents are incapable of taking adequate
responsibility for their child," he said.

The Indian embassy is calling for the children to be returned to India
to live with extended family, where it says they will benefit from being
in familiar surroundings with their own linguistic and cultural heritage.

(6) Separating kids from parents unjustified: India tells Norway


PTI  Jan 6, 2012, 10.26PM IST

NEW DELHI: Issuing a strong demarche to Norway, the second in nearly a
week, India has said that its actions of separating two children from an
NRI couple was unjustified.

The government emphasised that the children be allowed to return to
India so that they can be brought up in familiar surroundings under the
loving care of their extended family.

The Ministry of External Affairs yesterday issued "strong" demarches to
the Norwegian embassy here voicing concern that the circumstances
prevailing in this case may not justify an extreme step like long-term
separation from natural parents.

Anurup and Sagarika Bhattacharya's children Abhigyan (3) and Aishwarya
(1) were taken under protective care by Barnevarne (Norwegian Child
Welfare Services), which claimed emotional disconnect with the parents,
and placed them in foster parental care according to the local Norwegian
court's directive. The couple has appealed against the court decision.

"Further, the Government is concerned that there may have been
insufficient regard paid to the undoubted benefits of bringing up the
children in their own ethnic, religious cultural and linguistic milieu
while putting them in foster care," an External Affairs Ministry
statement said here.

It said the government reiterated that return of the children to India
so that they can be brought up in familiar surroundings under the loving
care of their extended family would be in their best long-term interests.

This is the second demarche issued by India to Norway in the last eight

The Norwegian authorities have expressed understanding for the
government's concerns. The matter will continue to be pursued with them
actively, the Ministry said.

(7) Norway agrees to hand children to their Uncle


Updated: Thu, 26 Jan 2012 15:27:47 GMT | By Aman Sharma, Mail Today

Indian children's ordeal ends as Norway relents

Under the agreement, which ends an eight-month-long custody battle,
Abhigyan (3) and his sister Aishwarya (1) will be given to their uncle
Arunabhas Bhattacharya

New Delhi: The ordeal of the two Indian children who were separated from
their parents by Norwegian authorities is about to end. Thanks to the
diplomatic pressure piled up by India, the little ones - in foster care
since May - will be handed over to their Kolkata-based uncle soon.

Under the agreement, which ends an eight-month-long custody battle,
Abhigyan (3) and his sister Aishwarya (1) will be given to their uncle
Arunabhas Bhattacharya. This could pave the way for the return of the
two children and their NRI parents, Anurup and Sagarika Bhattacharya, to

Arunabhas, Anurup's brother, is set to leave for Oslo and may have to
stay there with the children for some time because the Norwegian child
welfare ministry would want to ensure the kids' well-being.

Anurup and Sagarika will have the right to visit the children and would
retain their parental status. External affairs minister S.M. Krishna
wrote to his Norwegian counterpart Jonas Gahr Store on Wednesday,
thanking him for resolving the issue.

The cost of Arunabhas's journey to Norway will be borne by the Union
government. Foreign ministry sources said there had been a settlement
between the Indian government through its mission in Norway, the
municipality of Norway, Norwegian childcare services and the parents.
The pact stipulated that Arunabhas would be the children's "primary

Earlier, India had proposed that the grandparents of the children should
be given their custody. But given their old age, Arunabhas has decided
to go and get the children released from foster care.

For its part, the Norwegian government strongly denied the allegation
that its authorities had intervened in the case owing to cultural
prejudice or insensitivity.

The Child Welfare Services Head of Norway said such interventions to
take away children were rare. According to the official, the step was
resorted to only when a child was mistreated or subjected to other
serious abuses at home, or when there was a high probability of the
child's health or development being seriously harmed because the parents
were incapable of taking adequate responsibility.

Though the Norwegian authorities cited confidentiality to keep the exact
reason for intervening in the present case under wraps, weekly Norwegian
newspaper Ny Tid put out a report saying the extreme step was taken on
grounds such as the children having unsuitable toys and clothes,
insufficient room for them to play in the house and the son not having
his own bed.

The report also claimed that the Norwegian authorities objected to the
family not having a diaper-changing table and alleged that the mother
was unable to handle the infant daughter properly.

The children were taken away from the parents on May 12 last year and
placed in an emergency shelter. A county board of Norway rejected this
move on May 23. However, the Norwegian authorities appealed in a city court.

In November, the court decided that the children would be taken away
from their home and not be reunited with their parents until they turned
18 in 2026 and 2028.

The grandparents of the children then complained to President Pratibha

Source: www.indiatoday.in

(8) Parents & kids to return to India: "I don't want to stay in Norway


Reunion with kids soon for Norway NRI couple

Indrani Bagchi & Debashis Konar, TNN  Jan 26, 2012, 03.01AM IST

NEW DELHI/KOLKATA: The harrowing story of two Indian children taken away
from their parents in Norway moved towards a happy ending on Wednesday,
with the Indian and Norwegian governments closing in on a solution that
upholds Norwegian laws while meeting the expectations of the parents.

Dr Arunabhas Bhattacharya, the paternal uncle of the children, Abhigyan
(3) and Aishwarya (1), may be accepted as the primary caregiver if the
parents nominate him, and if the 27-year-old bachelor is acceptable to
the district court where an appeal is pending. Arunabhas may have to be
in Norway for a while for the kids to get accustomed to him.

Sagarika and Anurup Bhattacharya are looking forward to be with their
two children eight months after Norwegian authorities put them in foster
care, alleging parental neglect.

Speaking to TOI from Stavanger in Norway, the couple said they were in
high spirits after their lawyer told them the Norwegian child care
agency had agreed to hand over their children - Abhigyan and Aishwarya -
to Arunabhas, Anurup's 27-year-old brother. "I'm happy that at last I
can see the kids," said Sagarika. "The agency has agreed to return them
to my brother-in-law. He will come to Norway soon and stay with us and
then the children will be with us. Legally, they are giving custody of
the children to Arunabhas, but there isn't much difference." "We will be
heading for India soon after we are reunited. I don't want to stay in
Norway anymore," she added. The Bhattacharyas have been in Norway since
2007, ever since Anurup got a job as a geoscientist. Their visa expires
in March.

The two have been fighting a legal battle since May 2011 when Norway's
child welfare services took away their children, alleging serious
neglect of parental care.

It appears that Sagarika is being seen as the prime cause of concern by
Norwegian authorities. According to informed sources, she appeared to be
suffering from depression. In their statement, the Bhattacharyas claimed
this was post partum depression which the Norwegian authorities failed
to take note of. The older boy, Abhigyan, is believed to have some
behavioural problems.

The parents classify it as "quasi-autism", but sources familiar with the
developments say the boy's behaviour turned for the worse in his
parents' presence. Norwegian media reported that foreign minister Jonas
Gahr Store took personal interest in the matter after speaking to his
counterpart S M Krishna on Monday. A statement by Norway's foreign
ministry stated that the two "discussed the issue" and that Store
"assured that the Norwegian authorities are working hard to find a
solution that is in the best interests of the children".

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