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Updated: February 5, 2012 11:03 IST

The iron hand that rocks the cradle

Marianne Haslev Skånland
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The Hindu

Almost all families attacked by Norway's ‘child protection services' are good and loving. Some need help but most of them need nothing other than to be left in peace.

I must compliment Indian newspapers, not least The Hindu, for giving a thorough coverage to the case of the Indian couple deprived of their children by the Norwegian ‘child protection services' (CPS).

Very many of the comments to the articles, too, are exactly to the point. But you all need to know that this is the way the Scandinavian CPS carries on in general. Sweden is actually the worst of the Scandinavian countries.

One commentator says: “It would be interesting to see how many other white Norwegian children are taken away from their parents just because they don't have ‘proper toys'.” The answer is: thousands, on exactly such a pretext, or any other. Parents who are frightened or who protest are stamped with a quack psychiatric diagnosis. There is not much need of real social work in Norway and what there is (helping out with practical tasks such as washing and cooking in homes where the parents are ill), the social workers do not want to do. The CPS, in order to have work, wants children and they attack anybody who is vulnerable. That means mostly poor people, Norwegians as well as foreigners, because they are helpless to defend themselves. The general population chooses to disbelieve and despise the families, to believe CPS lies, and to believe that they themselves could never be hit because they are such good parents.

The truth is: Almost all families attacked by the CPS are both good and loving. Some need help, e.g. financial; but most of them need nothing other than to be left in peace by this vicious agency and its helpers. The CPS smashes the family and destroys the individuals. In their ideology, family ties are unimportant; they speak not of parents but “caregivers.”

Living off foster care

CPS lives by depriving children of their parents. It is an industry, which pays incredible amounts, especially to psychologists, for “reports” and to foster “parents” (they advertise for people to be foster parents and announce a yearly pay of, say, NOK 430.000 (€ 30.000) plus paid holidays and regular “time off” from the foster children plus allowances for building their house or buying an extra car plus pension entitlement. The business also, of course, provides extra income and extra jobs for social workers.

Frequently, the social workers themselves will take as their own foster children some of the children they remove from parents. Tens of thousands of teachers, kindergarten personnel, health workers, etc., report their “worry” over this and that child to the CPS. The court procedures are those of kangaroo courts. No matter how well those of us who fight against this are able to document the disastrous effects on the lives of both parents and the children, all the changes in legislation and procedures keep going in the wrong direction: The children are the property of the state and every parent who questions anything is accused of being an ill-doer and a danger to his/her children.

“What is this confidentiality about?” another commenter asks. Answer: The Norwegian state is trying to blackmail everyone to shut up about Norwegian child “protection” atrocities as a condition of letting the Indian children out of their clutches. That way Norway can: a) have the case die down by letting the children return to India, b) prevent outspoken comments abroad and avoid several of these countries perhaps joining forces, c) still continue to protect its social “services” — an industry feeding tens of thousands of people doing unproductive “work”, and d) avoid having to face heaps of other cases quite similar to the Stavanger/Kolkata one, some involving Norwegian families, some foreign families.

Another case involving India, because the child's mother is Indian (the father is Swedish), is that of Domenic Johansson, taken by Swedish police on behalf of the Swedish CPS off an aeroplane to stop him and his parents from going to India, and then abducted by Swedish CPS. The charge against the parents was that they wanted home schooling for Domenic:

(“The Domenic Johansson Case. Home schooled boy snatched from plane in Sweden” http://www.nkmr.org/english/ dominic_johansson_case_ home-schooled_boy_snatched_from_ plane.htm)

Fighting state abuse

Cases similar or identical to the Stavanger/Kolkata case are many. There are people trying to fight against this criminal abuse perpetuated by our state, of course, but they themselves are often threatened. Anyone trying to help children who flee the CPS is prosecuted and jailed. It is encouraging for Norwegians trying to get publicity out about CPS abuses (the press is very state-subservient and uninterested) to see, in the bottom right hand corner of the large poster carried in the demonstration in Kolkata (the picture from the newspaper Stavanger Aftenblad is shown on the front page of http://forumr-b-v.net, a little way down from the top), a picture of an ogre with the text “Barnevern” (child protection). That picture has been taken precisely from this website. So, some intelligent Indians seem to have discovered “us”. It warms our hearts.

Although CPS persecution in Norway happens mostly to Norwegian families, foreign families are disproportionately represented. One case, with the same head of social services, Gunnar Toresen, as in the Indian case, concerns two Turkish children, a case from which I have numerous details. I wrote about it in 2006: “The Manavgat case in Turkey — Norway is the kidnapper” on the website “Redd Våre Barn”: http://forum.r-b-v.net/viewtopic.php? f=56&t=628

The case has recently come to life because at long last, a Stavanger newspaper went after some details of the city of Stavanger having paid out half-a-million crowns to be spent as graft to take the children illegally out of Turkey. The man who engineered this is a private investigator who previously worked for the Norwegian crime force and now did this job for the CPS. But, in my view, there are far more important facts: The children had been placed with a Norwegian foster “father” who had already been accused by two previous foster girls to have abused them sexually. (No attention was paid to this, of course, since the CPS do not tolerate criticism of their foster “parents”.) The boys were kidnapped and taken back to Norway, to the very same foster “father” and his partner. This foster “father” has only now been on trial for child pornography and child sexual abuse, and been found guilty.

Back in 2006, the social services and their Norwegian lawyer derided the boys' parents in a Turkish court for making such claims of abuse, expressing contempt and irony towards the parents, holding that the mother wanted her boys back out of prestige and not out of love, since she made no attempt at that time to get back her daughter, only her sons. (The mother had been only 14 when her daughter was born, and the CPS had immediately taken the daughter because of the mother's “immaturity” and never let her know where her daughter was. The sons were born much later and had lived with their parents for several years before they were taken. It was possible for the parents to find them.

I am full of admiration about the actions taken by the family of the Bhattacharyas, the Indian people and newspapers in general. You need to continue being on the alert: You cannot trust a single thing said by the Norwegian CPS, the Norwegian Foreign Minister or any other politician or official. It was foreseeable that Norway would try blackmail in the form of making it a condition for returning the Indian children to their family that everybody must promise to shut up about the case. In that way, Norway can continue to do what it does, the kangaroo courts can go on as before, the foster “parents” and psychologists can go on earning money, myriad social workers trained each year can get jobs. Needless to say, I hope Norway does not succeed with this blackmail.

(Marianne Haslev Skanland is Professor Emeritus, Bergen, Norway.)

More In: Comment | Opinion

What an amazing eye opener! Here is one article that I actually learned
something I entirely did not suspect before. Pure cruelty evil still
alive in a so called western advance white nation surviving all that has
been learned from the happy demise of the dead tyranncal USSR under
Stalin which stole babies from their mothers - not for profit as the
Norwgians do now - but for Ideology!! Does Evil Ever Die?? Where is God?

from:  mukundagiri sadagopan
Posted on: Feb 5, 2012 at 09:55 IST

In the Bhattacharya case, if there are serious facts behind what is made public, why then does the CPS's case drag in all the arguments the public does hear about?
Re Fylkesmannen, he is the state's representative in each county and performs purely formal functions on behalf of the government and does not go into the content of cases. A quote from a report which three small NGOs I know well sent to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child in 2009 may illustrate:
"The County Governor (fylkesmannen) does not have the authority to undertake any detailed evaluation of the working of the system. The figures referred to by the Norwegian state in these points conceal the fact that the remit of the County Governor is actually restricted to whether the formal prescriptions of the Child Welfare Act are being followed." You may read the whole report on several web-sites; the original posting was here: "Critical comments to Norway's fourth periodic report to the UN Committee on the Rights of Child"

from:  Bente Jacobsen
Posted on: Feb 5, 2012 at 05:21 IST

Fylkesmannen is not an independent entity from the CPS. That´s one of the reasons why families like Kolkata comes into serious problems. Fylkemannen is close to the CPS-workers, Norway is a very little country, population of only 5 millions. At Fylkesmannen works earlier student-friends with the CPS workers, they often know each other from conferences, or, as private friends. I´m sure (I hope!) mrs. and mr. Kolkata will tell theire CPS-experiences when they are safe, home in India.
The most serious problem is the lack of ability to tell the society about how the system works. Many CPS-workers would like to tell the thruth from inside the system stand up against it "out" it. They can´t. They will loose theire jobs.

from:  ath
Posted on: Feb 5, 2012 at 02:47 IST

I suppose it is worth pointing out that the Norwegian CPS are not allowed to reveal the most serious reasons for removing a child from its family. And that this particular case was reviewed by Fylkesmannen, an entity independent of the CPS. Who had access to all the details. And came down quite heavily on the side of the CPS.

from:  Garm
Posted on: Feb 3, 2012 at 20:44 IST

Unless it is proven that the parents of a child are intentionally illtreating their children , inspite of being adviced on the way to take care of the children, the children cannot be removed. In all other situations parents should be guided and taught to take care of the children. If the children are foreign citizens, then Norway has no right but to complain to Indian Government and ask them to take charge of the children. Norway has no right to touch the children unless Indian Government is not showing any interest. In this case every logical way of handling the situation has been thrown aside. I think the vast majority of Indians cannot see any sense in the actions of Norwegian Child Care.

from:  harish
Posted on: Feb 3, 2012 at 15:47 IST

"The biological principle" is being made increasingly weaker. Norwegian authorities have a process underway to destroy it. New information we get on 6 February. Then shall the Minister Lysbakken and Magne Raundalen have a press conference. We expect a dramatic worsening against the families. Follow the case on the government website. We hope the international media will not forget us.

from:  Arild Holta
Posted on: Feb 3, 2012 at 07:33 IST

As a Norwegian I admire the newspaper The Hindu for theire braveness helping
bringing information out to the world about Norwegian CPS - it´s not a child
protection the Norwegian Professor is right. In Norway, thought may be no one will
believe it, it is more or less impossible to tell the truth about the system. Some times
newspapers write, they present i as "scandals", not one of thousands of examples
how the system really works. Also it´s a serious problem, newpapers do not allow
debates postet "nick-named" but recommend full name. To many parents are afraid
to speak. Most parents can´t. They may see theire children two hours two times a
year. If they speak out, they won´t se them at all. The Hindu shows a lot of courage,
cricizing the Norwegian Government.

from:  ath
Posted on: Feb 3, 2012 at 01:15 IST

Unless the parents' offence is huge enough for them to be jailed or otherwise severely punished, there can be no ground for the State to take charge of children. I think this should be the basis for popular campaigns in the Scandinavian countries. But because there is a huge industry and vested interest which can stonewall these attempts, they can be tempered with some concessions, although initially only, for some room for paid councelling of the parents. It is time the social workers there find better jobs than abduct others' children.

from:  Vasant Kumar
Posted on: Jan 31, 2012 at 19:37 IST

Thank you Professor Skanland in writing this from a Norwegian
perspective. We truly admire the interest you have shown in this case.
I hope the media will continue monitoring the case and expose the
unbelievable activities of the Norwegian Child Protection Service and
the financial interest of various parties involved in this modern day-
state sponsored-child abduction racket.

from:  Kiran
Posted on: Jan 31, 2012 at 18:36 IST

@Hayden. On any day, I would prefer those countries u listed in a
negative light to a nanny state like Norway. Its better to err on the
side of leaving the kids with the parents than to remove kids en masse
from their families. Please do read various well researched reports
that explain in detail how majority of the kids left in the foster
homes end up as abused children. Have these countries, which claim to
protect the "rights" of the children, ever bothered to answer the question "what happens AFTER a child is removed from its parents and left in a foster home?"? And are you aware that this "western" country Norway has been severely criticised by the UN for the inhuman
activities of the child protection services? And please dont degrade all the western countries by clubbing them up with countries like Norway and Sweden. Most other western countries have sensible child protection services unlike these Scandinavian countries.

from:  Anup
Posted on: Jan 31, 2012 at 18:22 IST

Excellent article and mirrors pattern we are seeing in UK where over 10,000 children are taken by state 'children's services' each year. Along with many other good people I am trying to expose that this is deliberate state trafficking of children. In the secret British family courts children are taken by lies, false evidence, false psychiatric and psychological reports, perjury, intimidation and bullying. Please google "Child Stealing by the State Brian Gerrish. The Cara organisation in India is working with national governments including UK to help move children internationally. I believe the overall objective is to assist the one world state where there are no national borders nor national culture and identity. We done The Hindu keep up the good work.

from:  Brian Gerrish
Posted on: Jan 31, 2012 at 15:55 IST

Oh!! what an article..!?! I admire you Mr.skanland for your bravery..
Being a citizen of Norway, you are here to tell the world its short
comings..??!!! After reading the article - I feel proud, happy and lucky
to be born in India.. India too has its own short comings, but still I
feel blessed to be born here. And I can only wish God help Norwegians,
its children and parents...

from:  Krishna
Posted on: Jan 31, 2012 at 10:14 IST

I saw a subtitled documentary on french channel TV5 about switzerland
and how it had been removing children from their homes for years for
the mildest of pranks like hiding the clothes from the clothes line of
a grouchy neighbour or listening to modern music not conforming to a
dress code They were kept in juvenile homes for years together .There
were actual victims( the children now adults )..speaking out about how
their lives had been ruined by this ..and their parents too similarly
had no recourse to the law to get their children ..the state
organisation had pychologist which branded them with tags like sexual
adicts ( because some underclothes had also been in the clothes hidden
from the clothesline )
The swiss story too echoed the things in this article and I think it
would be great if the hindu continues its coverage.

from:  Vinita Gill
Posted on: Jan 31, 2012 at 09:57 IST

This is form a professor of Norway. At least now, will it open the eyes of people blaming Anurup and Sgarika for not following the rule of Norway?

from:  C S Sundaresha
Posted on: Jan 31, 2012 at 09:32 IST

The candid narration of the way the CPCs in Norway are functioning,by the author,a professor,deserves high appreciation by the readers.How this kind of public administration is tolerated by its citizens seems to be an enigma.Also it passes one's understanding why the people there do not have a government they deserve.Could they not seek help from world forums like the UNO? Only another article from the author regarding life and polity in Norway could help us get a better picture of the events in issue.

from:  G.Rajaram.
Posted on: Jan 31, 2012 at 09:04 IST

Not sure where the middle ground is for intervention. I wonder how the young Afghan girls in Canada would have felt if they had been taken away from their father before they were killed. Apparently before the "honor" murders of 3 young girls and their "auntie" the 13 year old tried hard to get Canadian authorities to place her in foster care. Too bad they didn't; she at least might still be alive. Odd too, that the "auntie" that was killed was actually the father's secret polygamous wife. Might be legal in Afgahnistan, or India, or Pakistan, but not in the West. Now the child protective services in Canada are facing criticism for not doing enough. For those that don't know, taking a child in the West is always a temporary measure IF or until parental rights are formally terminated in court. Reunification is the primary goal as the state does not want the cost of raising kids. Somewhere there has to be a middle ground between saving lives or saving face.

from:  Ed Hayden
Posted on: Jan 31, 2012 at 03:58 IST
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