Thursday, October 6, 2011

Swiss National Radio on Nepali adoptions (English translation)

Swiss National Radio on Nepali adoptions (English translation):

Soundbite Music

Kamala Tamang lives in a mountain village far off Katmandu. She is the mother of two sons and one girl. After divorce, she went to the city where she found work in a hotel. She gave her children to an orphanage because she believed that they would get good education and enough food. In many orphanages, this is the case. But when she called her son Mahesh, he gave her bad news:

Soundbite Kamala:
"The owner of the orphanage brought my sister to the airport, my son told me, the owner said, Sushila would come back, but she never came back. Later they told my son that Sushila went to another country."

Kamala asked the owner to give back her children. But he denied. He just promised he would not give away the boys if she wouldn't tell what happened to Sushila.

Joseph Aguettant, until recent head of TdH in Nepal, confirms that story.

Soundbite: "62 percent of children in orphanages had both parents. Many parents are misled and believe the orphanages are schools." Says Aguettant who conducted together with UNICEF a study on the topic.

In Nepal, it's not difficult to create an orphan even though the parents are still alive. The owner of an orphanage has to publish the picture of the child in a newspaper, and if the parents don't come to claim it within 35 days, the child is declared orphan. But many parents can't read or write. Hence, many wouldn't know that their child was given for adoption, says Aguettant:

Soundbite: "In the vast majority of cases, we found that the people didn't know. They were misled, misinformed, and they simply realized later that their child was sent to another country. And they were, with the help of pictures, kept in the belief that their child only went to a foreign country for educational purpose and would come back. But, in reality, they never come back."

The Nepalese state, orphanages and child traffickers earn a lot of money.

Soundbite of noise in the Ministry of Child, etc.

The responsibility for the adoption lies in the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare. Under State Secretary Sherjung Karki has finished this morning six adoptions. He denies that this is a good business, but the numbers tell another story.

Soundbite Sher Jung Karki: "3000 US dollars the parents pay to the government, each adoption agency pays 10,000 dollars to the Ministry."

There are eighty adoption agencies in Nepal, this makes 800,000 US Dollars which the Ministry earns only by the agencies. And also the orphanages get 5000 Dollars per child, and this is a lot of money in a country where half the population lives beyond the poverty line.

Many of the orphanages finance themselves not only through adoption but also through foreign money and donations. Some provide a new and secure home to the children, many earn a lot of money with them. Hence, it is not surprising that orphanages mushroomed in the country in the last years. 2001 there was only one adoption orphanage in Nepal, 2007 there were already 47. 2000 only 8 children were adopted, 2006 nearly 400 were adopted. Most of them from American and Italian parents.

That this is child trafficking becomes clear at a meeting with a lady whom we call Maya. She is a vegetable seller, and she sells children to the orphanages. In order to meet her, we tell her that we are orphanage owners and want to buy children. We record the conversation with a hidden microphone. We want to know how much money she gets from the orphanage owners per child:

Soundbite Maya: "It depends from child to child. For a newborn, I get 300 Swiss francs (I converted it), 60 francs of it I give to the mother. Normally I make children younger than what they are. Younger ones are preferred from the adopting parents. In the last year, I have sold about 16 children to the orphanages. The majority went to foreign countries. I search directly for pregnant women, therefore I also have contact to hospital personnel who tell me about abandoned children. And I got training from the orphanage owners how I can convince the parents to give their children. When the parents talk about the daily struggle, I tell them about a better future for their children. I'll take them to the orphanage, and finally they get overwhelmed by emotions."

Soundbite children singing

More than 60 children live in this orphanage in Katmandu. Maya says that she sold most of her children to this orphanage. Some children sit in the classroom.

Soundbite crying children

In a room above the classroom, the little ones are tied with a cord to their beds. The owner says he gets all the children from the police, and they find them abandoned in the street. He denies that any of the children are trafficked or bought.

Already 2007, Nepal gained internationally a bad reputation because of the adoption cases. After that Nepal released a new law to stop the trafficking, but again new cases of parents who didn't know about the trafficking of their children were made public. Even Sher Jung Karki knows that:

Soundbite: "We have a problem, and the ministry tries to improve the system, but it takes some time. We just don't have the capacity to control each adoption."

Since 2010, all the countries stopped adoption from Nepal. Even the US, where the adoption lobby put high pressure on the Senate.

Gillian Mellsop from UNICEF is relieved about this decision:

Soundbite: "But we want to put it in a much bigger frame. Adoption is only one small part of child care, but first there have to be other options, like in-country adoption or foster families."

Also the Nepalese government wants that now. This spring they officially declared that they want to do more to protect children. They would look into alternative care and children who were found in the street are not given for adoption any more.

For Kamala Tamang and other mothers this decision comes too late. Kamala Tamang says she would have never given her children to an orphanage if she had known what would happen to her daughter. But even now after years of no news she still hopes:

Soundbite: "My heart tells me that Sushila will come back -- one day."

Translation by Karin Wenger.

Radio broadcast (in German):

Beitrag 7 von 7 aus Echo der Zeit vom Dienstag, 30.8.2011, 18.00 Uhr, DRS 1 und DRS 4 News

Kinderhandel in Nepal

Bis vor kurzem konnten Kinder aus Nepal sehr leicht von ausländischen Paaren adoptiert werden. Die meisten Kinder in den Waisenhäusern seien jedoch gar keine Waisen, sagen das Kinderhilfswerk Unicef und Terre des Hommes.

Hören (8:33)

Verantwortlich für diesen Beitrag:

Karin Wenger

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

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