Written by Marianne Haslev Skånland, Professor Emeritus
It has been planned for several years, and has now finally been produced: a film based on a child protection case from 2011 onwards, a case in which an Indian couple’s two children were taken by the Norwegian CPS, called Barnevernet, in Stavanger. The film sounds, from the info I’ve been given and have seen, as though it’s pretty realistic.
The real case had many details and elements that have been misrepresented by Norwegian CPS and also by others. The children’s mother was scandalously treated by the child protection services, and unfortunately the children’s father eventually turned against her, unjustifiably, and almost campaigned for the CPS. This is NOT a case of a mother making up false claims or trying to make life miserable for her husband to get her way. Rather, it is a case that many people recognize: Child protection services burden the family with unreasonableness and horrors which ultimately cause the marriage to break up.
Many details about how the case ran are known and some of them are found in writing, in articles and documents. It would all of it be too much to have to write about all this (again), or to try effectively to counter all the distortions, falsehoods and misrepresentations that are resurfacing now, just as they have in the past, about the way the case evolved and the children’s development then and later. The central accusation from the CPS, the one they always make in Norwegian courts and which the Norwegian people bow to in respect, was the quack diagnosis of Sagarika: that she had a mental disorder and had also caused an ‘attachment disorder’ in the children – they ‘were not attached to their mother (in a healthy way)’. But the CPS made various other claims as well. They find it easy now to say that these allegations either did not exist or were not the reason why the children were taken. This is what the CPS usually says in child protection cases when there is criticism.
Now that the film is coming, the story is moving again, with the same false claims from the then head of the CPS in Stavanger, Gunnar Toresen, and now also from the children’s father. And these incorrect claims are allowed by Norwegian newspaper journalists to be served up unchallenged. I am adding links at the bottom of this article to a few articles which, among other things, contain significant inaccuracies. Feel free to read them, but you should not believe anything without checking it with those who know the matter and preferably Sagarika and the family in India, and especially with those who were active in obtaining and publishing correct information.
There are two people who more than anyone should have respect and admiration in this matter: they are Sagarika’s parents. They did not allow themselves to be fooled by prejudice or power, did not allow themselves to be overwhelmed or imagine all the malicious filth that was hurled at their daughter, but welcomed her with open arms when she in deep despair and after near torture in Norway succeeded in getting home, and they helped her faithfully in the years that followed. The children’s lives and development became very good from the time when she got them home. And they are definitely ‘attached to’ their mother!
I have found some of the articles and posts that some of us wrote and received at the time, and have added links to them. The most important is the case report prepared by Indian experts in 2012: “The confiscation of the Bhattacharya children by Norwegian authorities – a case study”.
Signatories to the Petition to the Indian National Human Rights Commission:
The confiscation of the Bhattacharya children by Norwegian authorities – a case study –
(12 October 2012)
Marianne Haslev Skånland:
Norwegian CPS attacks an Indian family
The Bhattacharya case in Stavanger
(January 27 – February 1, 2012)
“NHR Connect: Cultural ignorance or arrogance?” (Part 1)
YouTube video interview with parents 8 months after children were taken
Modern Times Article
Deprived of the children – siblings split
Forum Redd Våre Barn:
Photos of Indians in Kolkata demonstrating against the Norwegian CPS’s confiscation of those two children. Some 6,000 people took part.
Norwegian CPS still keeps the Indian children isolated from their family
Marianne Haslev Skånland:
Norwegian “child protection service” and the children’s uncle
(The India/Stavanger case)
(11 February 2012)
Marianne Haslev Skånland:
The curious case of ‘child protection’ in Norway
Norway and Sweden – where inhuman rights prevail
(7 May 2012, 11 November 2017)
Understanding and Responding to Child Confiscation by Social Service Agencies
(9 May 2012, 20 September 2017)
Petition: Indians want government to guard against CPS
Marianne Haslev Skånland:
Good news in India for the children in the Bhattacharya case
(10 January 2013)
“Finally I got justice, says mother of children in Norway”
A 10-year-old (YouTube) interview with the real mother, Sagarika Chakraborti
Note: This was an interim decision that the children were going to be with their mother Sagarika. In the later court case she got permanent custody.
(10 January 2013)
“Child protection case damages Norway’s reputation in the Czech Republic”
(The footnote in this article has interesting details about the Stavanger/India case.)
Mrs Chatterjee vs Norway: Child protection in its current form has failed
Trine Overå Hansen, chief editor:
Barnevernet under lupen (Barnevernet under scrutiny)
Norge IDAG, 1 March 2023
(I can’t help but notice the difference between this article and the three articles below which “contain significant inaccuracies.” I understand that this news source, Norge IDAG, has an independent Christian orientation much different than most Norwegian publications. The editor of Norge IDAG has taken an interest in getting correct information about Barnevernet and knows a lot about the subject. -CR)
Examples of recent articles which, among other things, contain significant inaccuracies:
Norwegian CP case becomes Bollywood film: – Catastrophic consequences
“Norsk barnevernssak blir Bollywood-film: – Katastrofale konsekvenser”
VG, 25 february 2023
The fatal consequences are, of course, those envisaged for Norwegian trade and commerce, seen from the point of view of people who have, like our ‘Conservative Party’, never cared about these ‘finicky concerns about unsuccessful families and their unruly children’.
“Former child protection leader on Bollywood film: – This is not the story as it happened”
“Tidligere barnevernsleder om Bollywood-film: – Dette er ikke historien slik den skjedde”
Dagsavisen, 26 februar 2023
In this article, former CPS leader in Stavanger Gunnar Toresen is allowed to repeat all the false claims and add some more false ones. He says that Sagarika kidnapped the children, that there was agreement that the children could not live with their parents. And he says that he doesn’t know anything about how things have gone for the children from the time Sagarika kidnapped them. But in fact we know, and HE could get to know, but of course he does not want any info from sources who do not implicitly bow to what the CPS claims to be the truth.
If Toresen and Barnevernet do not know how the children have fared, it must be attributed to their own behavior and that of the Norwegian authorities through the case if they cannot just by a natural and friendly enquiry get those in the know to tell them the news that life together with their mother has been good for two children whom Barnevernet had been supposed to help, much better than when they were under the ‘care’ of Barnevernet.
Actually, Sagarika has been taking an active part in demonstrations against Barnevernet’s attacks on families from other nations too. Here a survey of several demonstrations in 2016, triggered by Barnevernet taking away 5 children from the (Norwegian-Romanian) family Bodnariu, and some photos from New Delhi and in Kolkata to support the Bodnarius:
Sagarika Chakraborti is there with the children, you see them on several photos, e.g. on the last photo, and some of the others, (e.g. the one with the big Norwegian flag and the people with posters, Sagarika in light blue jeans and a dark blue top, the children beside her).
“Father of the family in the child welfare case that becomes a film: – I am portrayed as the villain”
“Familiefar i barnevernsaken som blir film: – Jeg blir fremstilt som skurken”
Dagsavisen, 27 februar 2023
Here is Anurup Bhattacharya, who turned on his wife when she would not agree to sign a binding statement saying that she would not ever be entitled to go to court in India to get the children back or get any connection with them. He ‘dreams’ up an even newer version of the story, picturing him as the discriminated against father who has not been able to see his children for 10 years. – Several questions are then pertinent, among them why he acted as he did in 2012. Why did suddenly the Indian newspaper Hindu write that Sagarika was after all a psychiatric case and mentally handicapped? Has the father paid any child support for these 10 years, and was his brother paid as a ‘foster father’ by Stavanger Municipality or the Norwegian State for the year the children were living in his parents’ house? One of the things the court in Bengal apparently said when they awarded custody to Sagarika, was that their father’s brother, who had been appointed by Norway and by his free will was to be the children’s foster father, had failed in his duties to them.
It appears that I have gone over a year without writing anything about the state of Child Welfare. I have always been interested in the welfare of children but my interest grew dramatically with a story out of Norway in 2016. After some research I became convinced that children were being stolen by the organization in Norway designated to help families. My opinion has only been solidified by story after story like the Bodnariu case in 2016. Since then the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has found the Norwegian state guilty of severe violation of human rights involving child welfare in cases that took years to be decided, and Norway has now been given status as a ‘habitual offender’ by the ECtHR.
This new movie is a great opportunity to bring the subject back to the fore. The truth is that little to no headway has been made against the sinister and embedded systems within many governments that cause stories like the one described above. Norway isn’t the only culprit. Since I’ve been watching this situation, Sweden, Great Britain, the United States and others have been guilty of similar crimes. The cases in Norway are so blatant that they are hard to ignore.
The good people in Norway continue to try to educate others about the situation so that changes can be made. They have had a difficult task because for every item published attempting to describe reality there are 20 others published that are like those mentioned at the end of Marianne’s links above along with glowing advertisements by adoption agencies.
Sadly, the great majority of these cases in Norway do not end well. After the children are taken from their parents, the Norwegian Child “Protection Services” (called the Barnevernet) does not look to worthy extended family members to take the children in for a period of time while any problems are resolved. If more than one child is taken, and it is usually the case when there is more than one child, the children are split up into different foster homes and the parents are given very little visitation, sometimes only a few hours a year. Much of the time the parents have to travel hours to see their children because they have been moved so far away.
I have experienced one of these stories firsthand. Because I had been very active protesting these crimes on social media, a Norwegian mother and a friend of hers felt comfortable contacting me about her situation. She had just left a “Mother’s Home” in Norway where mothers are “observed” to determine if they are worthy to continue caring for their child. She was staying with her friend, a highly qualified nurse, and her family, until she could decide her next move in life. I still remember the day she called me on the phone and told me that her son had been taken from his crib by Barnevernet workers.
We were in shock. Not long after that the brave young mother decided that I should document her experience in spite of possible problems it might cause. She wanted the world to know about this evil thing that had happened to her. Over the next few months I wrote posts here describing what she was going through as she shared every important event with me over the phone. The entire series of posts was eventually shared here as well. They were shared in a post entitled: A Miracle in the Norwegian CPS? Following the young mother’s struggles is something I will never forget.
How can I forget about the American mother who had her son stolen from her almost 10 years ago? The child was a little underweight but well within any healthy metric one might conjure up. He enjoyed being breastfed and was a bit slow in taking to solid food. On a day in 2013, agents from Norway’s child protection services, along with officers from the Norway police force, stormed the mother’s home and forced her, her baby’s father and her son to go to a local hospital. Shortly thereafter, the mother had her parental rights taken from her and her son was taken into custody by Norwegian officials. The parents were granted a few visitation hours a week. After a year of visitations, she was told she could no longer see him. Almost 10 years later all the mother knows is that her son’s name has been changed multiple times just in case she tried to find him. She has no idea where he is. The incredible story can be found here: “Norway Took My Child”: Child Protective Services Takes Baby from American Mom.
It is still happening. Nothing has changed. In fact, some think that things are getting worse. Many are afraid to say anything. Some have taken their children and left Norway. I don’t blame them. Mothers are being watched. They are being watched by school officials, neighbors, church members, and many others. There is no question that some mothers could use a little assistance in rearing their children. There is no question that there is a very small minority of women who should not be mothers. But when children are taken from their parents for questionable and even trivial reasons, there will be a reckoning. One day, those who are guilty of such crimes will face a natural and spiritual reality. It is a reality as real as the stories I have shared here. It is the reality that those guilty of such crimes will reap what they have sown.
American Teens and SadnessMay 18, 2023
In the past several months I have noticed article after article about the mental health of teenagers in America. The articles have come from media sources with every political bent. This blog post is an effort to summarize several of those articles dating back to December, and to add my own thoughts as to what is contributing to this problem.
“Understanding the mental health crisis afflicting American teens” was aired on NPR on December 23rd. A reporter who has studied this subject was interviewed about his latest findings. Early in the interview, the host of the show made this statement:
“While there’s no clear consensus among experts on the root of the problem, there is research that provides important insights into the nature of teens’ suffering and some treatments that show promise.”
In this interview the major guess at the cause of these problems is that environmental factors have become too overwhelming for teens to process. Loneliness was cited as common and the discussion detailed how resources to handle such issues are nowhere near sufficient.
Teenage mental problems are now considered a “common” problem.
In February, Reuters published “Teen girls seeing ‘dramatic’ rise in poor mental health.” The government numbers showed:
“Nearly three in five high school girls reported feeling sad or hopeless in 2021, representing a 60% increase over the past decade, and fared worse than boys of the same age across nearly all measures of mental health, U.S. government data showed.
The data shows a “dramatic” rise in experiences of violence, poor mental health and suicide risk in teens, especially in girls, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control said…”
In late February, CBS posted an hour-long video on this problem. Although the program was titled “Inside America’s youth mental health crisis,” it did touch on the issue worldwide. Early in the episode, a speaker who travels and speaks to teens in schools says “I want to get to the root of it (teen mental problems)” and follows that up with “I can’t really save anybody. I can just do my part.” The program is a collage of experiences shared by teens.
In March, a WBUR report quoted the same government numbers. The article is entitled “Why mental health is declining for teenage girls in the U.S.”
“U.S. teen girls are experiencing record high levels of sadness and depression.”
“The pressure of social media is often cited as a leading cause. But that’s not the full story behind the mental health of teenage girls in the U.S. These things have been designed specifically to grab our attention. And it’s hard for adults to resist, but it’s an order of magnitude harder for a teen to resist. And that’s because their self-control toolbox isn’t as well-developed as (it is in) adults.”
March saw this headline: Teen girls are struggling with mental illness at record levels, with many ‘persistently sad,’ data reveals.
CDC numbers were again published in this Fox report:
“Some 57% of female teens in the U.S. struggled with feeling ‘persistently sad’ in 2021, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).”
Another report was published by U.S. News and World Report last month: “Many American Teens Are in Mental Health Crisis: Report.”
“’While lack of access to mental health services may have contributed to increased suicide risk, many other factors, including substance misuse, family or relationship problems, community violence, discrimination, among others, may have also contributed to the increased risk,’” Mack ( Karin Mack, associate director for science in the CDC’s Division of Injury Prevention) added.”
The Covid pandemic and social media were noted as major contributors to the problem.
So much for the problem. It is real and it appears to be getting worse. It is a complex issue and there appears to be many reasons for it. None of these articles mentioned the first cause that comes to my mind as I continue to watch these articles multiply.
One Bible verse sums up my thoughts as to the main reason for so much confusion:
“When the foundations are destroyed, what can the godly accomplish?” – Psalm 11:3
Some foundational principles that once helped define and stabilize our society have been jettisoned in favor of ungodly practices and “freedoms” that only create bondage. Many of these foundational principles are rooted in Christianity and its tenets which are found in the Bible.
The breakup of the family, something ordained by God, has had a disastrous effect. Here is one of many charts I found which details only one factor that has changed in a short time:
In 1940, the vast majority of American children were being raised in a home that had a father and mother. The dramatic change in this statistic has opened a Pandora’s box of other issues.
The neighborhood I delivered about 120 papers to in 1970 has completely changed. In 1970, only two of my customers, one a widow and one a single man, differed from the normal man and wife who almost always had children. Things were certainly not perfect nor will they ever be in this world, but they were much more conducive for children to have a decent upbringing. Today, that same neighborhood has a number of various family arrangements many of which are radically different from those of 50 years ago.
As the years have passed, I have watched as every mainstream Protestant denomination has had squabbles over easily understood Biblical principles and doctrines. Many people left to go to “non-denominational” churches which have now had enough time to see the same types of problems as the mainstream. People from all parts of the country are finding it harder than ever to find churches that hold the same positions on a variety of issues that they held in 1940 and even 1970. Anyone who reads the Bible knows that churches have had problems since soon after Jesus left the planet. Church issues are the subject in many of the letters of Paul.
At the same time, it seems to me that any moral high ground that the U.S. held before and during WWII came from the strength that came from foundational positions on Biblical issues. As those foundational principles have eroded, society has weakened to the point where there is all types of fall out. How can these changes not effect the young?
We would do well to listen to the words that Jesus spoke at the end of the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 7:
24 “Everyone who hears these words of mine and does them is like a wise man who built his house on rock. 25 The rain fell, the flood came, and the winds beat against that house, but it did not collapse because its foundation had been laid on rock. 26 Everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain fell, the flood came, and the winds beat against that house, and it collapsed—it was utterly destroyed!”
When the foundations are destroyed, what can the godly do? Those who wish to help the young should study to understand who Jesus was and what he taught. The eternal foundations that He has laid are found only in the Bible.
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Posted by Chris