In May 2011, Anurup and Sagarika Bhattacharya, an Indian couple living in Norway, lost custody of their two young children, two year old Avigyan and four month old Aishwarya, after Norwegian Child Protective Services deemed them unfit parents. The reasons?
1) Child Protective Services objected to the children sleeping in the same bed as their parents. The "family bed" is a common practice among Indian families (and, I'm sure, among many other cultures around the world), but Norwegian authorities seem to find something strange and perverse about it. You know what could really screw a kid up, authorities? Tearing them away from loving and perfectly capable parents.
2) Child Protective Services equated Mrs. Bhattacharya's feeding her children by hand (also a common practice in India, where most people eat with their hands instead of utensils) to force-feeding, and deemed it cruelty.
3) Mr. and Mrs. Bhattacharya visited a local police station after their children were taken away, in an attempt to win them back. Mrs. Bhattacharya was, understandably, in tears, and Norwegian authorities took this as another reason to label her an unstable and incapable mother.
They said that if the couple split, they'd consider returning the children, who are currently in foster care, to the father. Meanwhile, the Bhattacharyas' have been allowed to see their children one or two times a year, for an hour.
The Indian government has tried speaking to the Norwegian Foreign envoy, demanding the kids be returned to their parents, who would be more than happy to return to India with their children thereafter, but to no avail. The Norwegian authorities have ignored these attempts. Child Protective Services denied the Bhattacharyas' account, but have not presented an alternative account or even deigned to talk about the matter openly.
So what's the real issue? Cultural misunderstanding? Racism? Sexism? Norwegian Child Protective Services having no sense of moderation? It's not an isolated incident, after all:
"There has been a report in UN in 2005 which criticised Norway for taking too many children in public care. The amount was 12,500 children and Norway is a small country," said Svein Kjetil Lode Svendsen, a lawyer.
And if it's none of these things, then please, Norwegian authorities, tell us, so that we can deal with the real issue.
If you want the truth, and you want this family to be a family again, please sign this petition. There are a lot of problems in the world. We don't need to manufacture new ones.