Before G20, activists raise awareness on child protection in ‘global south’

by The Technical Blogs

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As delegates start to arrive to take part in the G20 Leaders’ Summit in Delhi, groups of parents, activists and lawyers are trying to raise awareness about child protection systems in the ‘global south’ countries. Activists involved with the campaign are also scheduled to hold protests outside the Indian High Commission in London, and in Philadelphia, USA.

Mrs Chatterjee vs Norway caught global attention as a Bollywood movie about a mother’s struggle to get her children back from Norway’s ‘Child protection’ body.

The case of baby Ariha in Germany became a subject of a meeting between the Indian External Affairs Minister and his counterpart in Germany, while the recent Priyadarshini case, where an Indian mother committed suicide after the Australian government refused to give her children back.

The campaigns are highlighting such incidents, and they are trying to attract attention from world leaders meeting in India for the G20 Summit.

#Supportnotseparation #G20GiveOurKidsBack are some of the hashtags being used by the activists on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Delhi-based lawyer Suranya Aiyar, who has been working with several of the affected families, is on a “hunger strike” from her residence, which is being streamed on her Facebook page.

Speaking to India Today, Aiyar said that the point of concern is that the systems which are expected to protect children are in fact “targeting” lower income families or families of immigrants who come from a different cultural background.

“Please see the data. More than 60% of cases of children being separated from families in the UK, around 70% in the USA are not due to violence or abuse but because of neglect or risk of future mental trauma. This is completely subjective and the parents have no legal recourse. Despite many cases being highlighted since the Norway case 12 years ago, there is no mechanism in place for informing the Indian Embassy in the concerned country or even access to lawyers for the parents who can help them,” she said.

Not just Indian parents, families from Nepal, Turkey, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka also face such troubles, she said. “With the G20 Summit, we are hoping that the issue will be deliberated on by the political leaders,” said Aiyar.

“The child protection laws are there to protect children. But when the agencies are given unlimited power to do something it is being misused,” she added.

Avneesh Jain, a Delhi-based activist, also said that the “western countries” are not taking into account the cultural practices of other countries.

“Even when there is no criminal case proved against the families, the children are taken away from themâ€æ how is that fair?” said Jain.

On September 5, retired judges, including 4 former Supreme Court judges in India wrote an open letter to the G20 delegates, asking them to consider the issue of repatriation of children separated from their parents to extended family or childcare institutions in India.

Justice (retd) Vikramajit Sen, former judge of the Indian Supreme Court, told India today that the “hope” expressed in the open letter was that the issue would be deliberated at the administrative level.

“This is not a problem of the law but of implementation of the law. There are international conventions on the Rights of the Child. The Indian Supreme Court and high courts respect international law but the sad reality is that several of these countries don’t respect the Indian legal system,” he said.

“We have expressed hope that they will consider repatriation of these children. Even if the parents are considered unfit, the children should not be separated from their families and their heritage, and should be sent back to their country,” he added.

He said the Western countries don’t seem to understand the Indian family system.

The former Supreme Court Judge also told India Today, “We hope that this letter written by retired judges, who are not politically inclined in any way, will be taken seriously by the Indian government and the G20 delegates.”

Meanwhile, a group of protesters in London, held a demonstration outside the India House on Friday, holding placards with slogans including “Global North Stop taking Global South Children” and “Thank you Indian Judges for Speaking out.”

Published On:

Sep 9, 2023

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