A major story in The Hindu, India’s most serious English daily, has caused shock and consternation among readers here. Two young Indian children in Norway have been taken into foster care. Their mother Sagarika was accused by the Norwegian Child Protection Service last May of being unfit to take care of her two-and-a-half-year-old son, Abhigyan, and five-months-old daughter, Aishwarya.
The reasons cited will appear bizarre to the average Asian, African and I imagine, South American parent. The child rights authorities decided to visit the Bengali home when baby Aishwarya was still being breast fed. The Norwegians decided, after observing her for one hour every week, that the mother, Sagarika, was unfit because she overfed the boy and fed him with her fingers. Anyone who knows Asian or African cultures would know that we eat with our fingers and it’s normal to feed children using your fingers, not a spoon. Many Asians overfeed their kids (when they have food and don’t come from impoverished families).
Another black mark against the young Bengali parents was that the boy slept with his father. Most Indian families, except the ultra-westernised ones, always keep young children in their beds. Asian people are appalled at the idea of babies and young children being in separate bedrooms. It’s viewed as another barbaric, misguided Western custom. How can they possibly leave a baby alone all night in another room, all by itself!
I know Norway is not terribly multicultural, but it seems to me ludicrous that they should be allowed so terrorize a young, foreign mother, deeming her unfit, with no respect for her culture, background or social customs. Social service departments are often callous and frightening. Their ability to take away children from their parents is nightmarish, like something out of a horror film.