There is something very peculiar going on in the State of Norway and it is the Child Welfare Agency which is arousing great suspicion. It may just be cultural ignorance or it may be a deep-seated racism or – and this is much more worrying – it may be a social experiment which has some political backing.
Norway has a very dark history in the treatment of its Roma population. Forced sterilisations of Roma women were taking place as late as 1977. Norway denied reentry to many of its Roma citizens if they left the country during WW2. Inevitably those denied reentry ended up in Nazi concentration camps. Many died. The Norwegian State’s Child Welfare Agency has a reputation for cultural ignorance and racism in their very frequent “kidnapping” or “confiscation” of children of parents they don’t understand. Now, it seems they are being accused by the European Commission of forcibly taking half of all Roma children in Norway away from their parents.
UPDATE! The report is available here.
“Serious concerns have been raised by civil society representatives about extremely frequent placements of Roma children in child welfare services, including foster care. It is estimated that over 60 Roma children are in foster care currently and that a further 60 children may be vulnerable to such interventions in the future; this represents about half of the total number of (non-immigrant) Roma children in Norway”.
Around 120 Roma children in Norway have either been forcibly placed in foster care or are at risk of it, which is equivalent to half of those who are counted as Norwegian Roma children, according to the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe in a report to be published later today.
They Council of Europe gives no details on how it has arrived at this previously unknown total. However the report says that Norwegian NGOs are very concerned that the so-called Barnevernet is forcing taking so many Roma children away from their parents.
Most of the children end up in foster families and some in institutions. According to the Council of Europe sources many Roma women in Norway avoid giving birth to their children at hospitals for fear that the authorities will take away their newborn babies.
The Norwegian government said in a response to the Council of Europe that the country does not register people based on ethnicity and that the government therefore can not comment on this new information that such a large proportion of Roma children are being forcibly taken away.
The Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights, Nils Muiznieks, is said to be seriously concerned about the situation of the Roma in Norway. He claims that there has been an increase in violent and discriminatory statements in Norway against Roma. The Commissioner also points to the lack of education for Roma children. In 2012 data from Oslo shows that just over half of the city’s Roma children of school age were registered in a school class.
This is not the first time that Norway’s child services have been the subject of very disturbing reports. The Nordic Page reports:
The recent conflict over the Norwegian authorities putting two children of an Indian couple in foster care gets resolved with political intervention. But there are still questions that will not go away about the Norwegian Child Welfare Agency (Barnevernet).
One of the best illustrating examples of this problem is the latest barnevern crisis between India and Norway. Two kids of the NRI couple were taken under protective care last May by Barnevernet, which claimed emotional disconnect with the parents, and placed them in foster parental care as per the local Norwegian court’s directive. The family had accused the Norwegian authorities with cultural misunderstandings and prejudice as they were taken for being fed by hand and sleeping in the same bed as their parents in addition to insufficient toys to play in the house. After Indian Foreign Ministry intervened the investigation, the Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre helped children to be handed to children’s uncles.
But the stories of Russian children being forcibly taken by the Norwegian Child Welfare Agency are even more disturbing. There is a hint of some of the children being “trafficked” to paedophiles posing as foster parents and being abused.
Russian media have recently run a series of issues about how more and more Russian women living in Norway are deprived of their children. Especially two cases on Russian media were strong enough to mobilize the protestors. One of these news stories featured a Russian citizen, who lives in Norway, whose name is Maya Kasayeva. Her shocking statements took many newspapers’ front pages: “During the court hearings, the judge told me: ‘We give you residence permit, and you give us your son.’ I refused, and then the repressions started.”
Irina Bergseth Frolova, a Russian woman living in Norway, had found out that her ex-husband, a Norwegian citizen, as well as his friends and relatives, had been raping their four-year-old son. The reports also remind another foster father who was previously been found guilty for child pornography and child sexual abuse in Stavanger.
In fact, the practices of Barnevern do not only worry Russians and Indians. There is a deep rooted skepticism among local groups towards an increased use of home based measures. A report prepared by Gruppen til Familiens Selvstendige Rett (GFSR), Redd Våre Barn (RVB) and BarnasRett concludes that current practices in the Norwegian Child Protection system are not compatible with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Kidnapping children is often driven by a very lucrative adoption industry. And a small but significant part of the adoption industry is to satisfy the desires of paedophiles. But 50% of all Roma children being forcibly taken away suggests some political motive. It is not plausible – as the Norwegian government claims – that these numbers come as a surprise. It could well be that Norway is trying out a new policy to integrate Roma children — by taking them away from their Roma parents and brainwashing them to be something else.