Adoption racket

Date: 2007-03-12
Source: eKantipur

Adoption racket
In this country, children have become new products to earn money. They are no longer treated with kindness. They are sold and abused sexually. And there is ample indication that some children might have been sold for camel riding in the Middle East. This is the outcome of 12-year long Maoist insurgency. The transitional government seems unaware of the child racket thriving in the capital. Who are the adoptive parents and how these children are being looked after do not matter; what matters is the deal between the adoptive parents and the agents. Adoptive parents pay hefty sum to agents. In the past six months alone, over 338 children have been given up for adoption abroad. In the process, a number of children are falsely declared orphans. The people involved in this racket include lawyers, bureaucrats and the agents who run orphanages.

Nepal is a signatory to The Hague Convention on Adoption -- the Child Rights Commission. But the existing law of this country does deal with the sum involved in the adoption process. There are 500 children homes and 60 orphanages in the capital. Some orphanages are functioning as a feeder to other orphanage centers. The children catch diseases because of poor health and lack of nutrition and cleanliness. Even at Bal Mandir, children are undernourished and confined to small and dark rooms. Children collected from the poverty stricken districts are sold at hefty sum to prospective adoptive parents. The fees for adoption of a child range from US $ 5000 to 10,000. Transactions of such activity, obviously, violate Article 21 of the Child Rights Convention but the unscrupulous bureaucrats, agents and lawyers involved in the trade have taken no account. The rampant illiteracy and poverty coupled with the Maoist insurgency has forced many parents to abandon their children at the mercy of agents. These agents have in turn found a new opportunity.

Most adopting countries have a central adoptive authority. India has come up with a new adoption policy because many agents were found involved in flesh trade. None has assured that children adopted abroad are taken proper care. The administrative staff of Bal Mandir, including the board members, have flouted the adoption process in the past. Although the Minister of Women, Children and Social Welfare has assured that she is prepared to plug the loopholes, it is unlikely that she can ever do so when the culprits are just under her nose. But it is the state's responsibility to take care of orphans. It must enact laws. The orphanages run with the external support should be monitored effectively, and those found guilty should be punished.

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