Suffer the children

  • Government needs to conduct thorough background checks on prospective adopters
Suffer the children

Jun 17, 2015-

Soon after the earthquake on April 25, it had been evident that children could be at risk. Many of them lost their homes or members of their families, and this made them vulnerable to predators. The Home Ministry has established policies to prevent the movement of children from one district to another if they are unaccompanied by guardians. Police personnel have managed to rescue dozens of children who were being trafficked to India.

Children from earthquake-affected families will remain at risk for a number of years.

In recent weeks, a slightly different problem from that of straightforward trafficking has emerged. A number of organisations with religious affiliations have been offering to adopt earthquake-affected children, take them to ashrams or other institutions in Kathmandu or across the border to India, and provide them with shelter and education.

In principle, the intentions of many of these organisations are good. However, there are cases where many of them have been found to be not been fulfilling the requisite regulations. On Tuesday, the Kavre District Administration Office intervened when 22 children were apparently on their way to India with members of Patanjali Yogpeeth—an organisation run by Indian yoga guru Ramdev. There, they would be cared for by the Patanjali Yogpeeth. After finding out that the organisation had not taken the permission of the children’s parents or followed the relevant laws before taking custody of the children, Kavre Chief District Officer facilitated their return to their families. Similar cases have been reported in other districts where Hindu, Christian and Buddhist religious groups were found taking guardianship of children without proper consultation with their families. In all such cases, the police have intervened to return these children to their parents.

While these organisations may have been genuinely committed to providing the children with a better life, their failure to follow the relevant rules and regulations has needlessly put the children at risk. Their actions can only lead to chaos and make the work of the government that much more difficult. For every organisation that genuinely cares about the children in their guardianship, there are many more unscrupulous ones which wish to exploit the children in their care.

For this reason, among others, the government needs to enforce strict regulations that include background checks on prospective adopters. This may take time, but such a process is necessary to prevent abuse. Experts are unanimous that, although children may have lost their homes, they should remain with their parents in the immediate aftermath of a major disaster. If they need rehabilitation or resettlement, this should be done at a later date when the situation has somewhat stabilised and the government is better able to monitor those offering help to children in need. While it is appreciable that the Home Ministry has taken measures to prevent trafficking, it is important to form long-term policies involving both the government and non-governmental organisations to prevent trafficking.

Published: 18-06-2015 08:07

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