Norwegian childcare services already have a bad reputation in countries like Poland and Hungary. And on Friday, the Hindi film arrives, which could make the situation worse.
Stavanger, 2011: An Indian family with young children lives an idyllic life in the western suburbs. The happy life is turned upside down when the Child Protection Agency comes to visit in the spring of 2011. The parents end up losing custody of both children, who were under the age of three. The youngest was still breastfeeding.
The case caused a sensation in India. Several media outlets reported on the case and followed it up over a long period of time.
It also led to a diplomatic push to return the children to India. Indian authorities Let this pressure time at the Norwegian Embassy in New Delhi, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) and the Ministry of Childhood, Equality and Inclusion.
Bollywood (Indian Film Industry) has now made a movie based on this case. It premieres in Norway on Friday.
Green Chili Entertainment is the distributor of “Mrs. Chatterjee Vs. Norway”. The movie company describes it as “The story of an Indian woman who fights to regain custody of her children, after they are taken out of childcare. They arrive in a dreamland in Norway, but things turn into a nightmare.”
The film will be shown in 24 cinemas across the country. Several shows have sold out, and additional shows have been arranged. In Oslo, a child protection representative and other actors will come to talk about Norwegian child protection right after the premiere.
Watch the movie trailer here:
It has a bad reputation in several countries
Norwegian child protection by bad reputation in many countries, including Poland and Hungary. In addition, you have The Norwegian Somalis held several demonstrations against child protection in Norway.
A representative of the city council, Uba Aden (AFP), knows the demonstrations well.
The majority of Somalis came to Norway in the 2000s. They fled war and a collapsed country. In Norway, they faced other conditions. In Somalia, the extended family can take care of the children if you cannot do so yourself, but in Norway the Child Protection Service has been activated. It was seen as interference in family relations.
It has created myths and misunderstandings about child protection work. The myths were for example that the child protection service takes Somali children and gives them to other families.
Lack of information creates unnecessary fear and distance. At the time, there was very little information sharing about childcare work and dialogue between childcare and minorities who fear childcare, notes Eden.
I helped arrange a meeting between the Somalis and the old Oslo area. That’s fine. Similar meetings were held in other neighborhoods.
A lot of misunderstandings arise when two different cultures meet. Yelling at a child may be completely normal in a country, but it may be seen as a threat in Norway. Therefore, it is important to have cultural competence in those who will deal with such matters. A lot of positive things have happened in recent years. The childcare service now has more staff from minority backgrounds, which has resulted in better cultural competency. At the same time, Somalis are becoming better integrated. Therefore, I would say that the relationship today is much better, says Oba Aden.
Polish journalist Maciej Czarnicki wrote the book Norwegian Childcare from Abroad. The book is based on interviews with Polish parents in Norway with child protection experience. It was translated into Norwegian in 2018.
He tells Aftenposten that an important reason for dissatisfaction is that issues are presented one-sidedly.
– Parents who have child protection problems and talk about them out loud made headlines in Poland. Creates a negative impression of child protection. Often the signal is not neutral, Czernicki says.
He adds that when he looked at the case papers, it often appears that the case is not as black and white as the media gives the impression.
– There are many groups on social media where cases about Norwegian child care are spread without revealing all the basic information. There are also strong accusations against Norwegian child protection that have no roots in reality. Like, for example, Norway has kidnapped children since the Viking Age, and that child protection is doing the same thing now, says Czarnicki.
Bouvdre: High threshold for caretaking
Department Director Christine Augstad Steinreim in Bovdir (Directorate for Children, Youth and Families) writes in an e-mail that she is interested in how the care of a Norwegian child abroad is discussed.
– We know about this movie, which we assume will get a lot of attention. Bufdir is collaborating with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Children and Families at a higher level regarding international interest in Norwegian child welfare, as this is now being achieved through this film. She wrote: We will watch the film with our colleagues in the Department of Children and Families and the Department of State.
Since 2011, Steinrem explains, there have been changes in how Norway cooperates with other countries on child welfare matters.
– In 2016, Norway ratified the 1996 Hague Convention on the Protection of Children, which can be used, among other things, in childcare situations where the children have connections with other countries. Bufdir is the central authority for this convention and is the central point of contact in Norway for this type of matter. This means that we assist the different Norwegian authorities in specific child protection cases where the children have connections to other countries, in order to achieve international cooperation in these types of cases.
– Norwegian child protection is unpopular in many countries. What do you think is the reason for that?
– We know that there is some criticism of the Norwegian child protection system in some settings in other countries. Some of this is based on misconceptions about how the system works, but it’s also important to realize that mistakes can happen – also in Norwegian Child Protection.
Steinrem adds that they cannot comment on the specific case due to confidentiality.
– However, we have noticed that in the movie trailer it is mentioned that children are placed in foster homes for the sake of profit. This is completely wrong. In general, we can say that there is a high threshold for making decisions about taking care in Norway.
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