20 April 2023
The Bollywood film should wake us up from our white self-satisfaction
By Bjorn Bjoro
Former Barnevern employee
• • •
A Norwegian version of this article was published by Utrop on 10 April 2023, with the title "Bollywood-filmen bør være en vekker for vår hvite selvgodhet".
   The present English translation is published here with the kind consent of the author.
   Translation: Marianne Haslev Skånland
• • •
On the 27 March 2023 Kjetil Ostling, divisional director in Bufdir, published an article in Utrop regarding the Bollywood film about the Norwegian child protection service Barnevernet.
At a recent international conference in India about the film, people taking part were from the Nordic countries, Germany, England, the USA and India. A four hour long recording was made of the conference.
Would be permitted to see their own children for one hour, three times a year
Ostling writes that it is important to know that this is a film based on "the story of one parent". That is only partly true. The concrete case is well documented in quite a comprehensive report, The confiscation of the Bhattacharya children by Norwegian authorites – a case study. It is based on a thorough go-through of alle the documents in the judicial process, and it brings out misunderstandings on which Barnevernet built their case. The report was written by an influential and competent group, and was delivered to the Indian National Human Rights Commission. There was a press conference in New Delhi in connection with the presentation of a so-called petition.
The children were given good physical care by their Indian mother in Norway. It can be seen that Barnevernet in Stavanger reinterpreted and misunderstood, and incorrectly thought the children were subject to violence. The children were – without any emergency existing – taken away by emergency order. The five months old girl was fetched from home, and the mother ran after the car. The two year older boy was taken from kindergarten. They were placed in a (temporary) foster home, and the parents were to be able to see them for 1 hour 3 times a year. They were to remain in foster homes until they were 18, a so-called long-term placement.
Still traumas, ten years later
The case was widely publicised in India and triggered loud political trouble. Barnevernet let an Indian uncle of the children in India take over care of the children. He was 26 years old, childless, and lived with his parents. The mother thought the care of the children was not good enough and was supported in this by the Calcutta High Court, which decided that the children were to be with her.
Former parliamentarian and government minister in India Mani Shankar Aiyar writes in The Week Magazine on 2 April of this year: "They are both growing up happy and normal in the loving care of their mother ...".
The mother said at the conference that everything goes well for the daughter. The boy sometimes still shows effects of the trauma – even 10 years later – due to the treatment he was given by Barnevernet. If he had continued in the hands of Norwegian Barnevernet, the boy's childhood, either in an institution or in a foster home, with accompanying treatment for traumas, would have cost millions of the tax-payers money. Now, the chilren are well and money is saved.
Good manners
Ostlong talks in nice terms about stepping up the education of Barnevern employees and about multi-cutural aspects. Well and good. But he does not touch on incorrect explanations, constructions after the fact – there are plenty in this case and indeed they are found all too often in Barnevern cases.
The film, with one of Bollywood's most famous stars, and the conference as well, should wake us up from our white self-satisfaction. The many judgments against Norway at the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) have caused some changes. But it needs to be sharper. For Barnevernet to be trusted, the municipalities need to give the families early legal help for free, in order to prevent conflict developing, the way the new leader of Barnevernet in Stavanger has proposed. Supporters and cultural bridge-builders, paid by the municipalities, must be made use of. In addition, employees of Barnevernet must learn ordinary good manners and to be honest in what they write and do.

See also
'Mrs Chatterjee vs Norway'
Official Trailer
Zee Studios & Emmay Entertainment, 23 February 2023

Bjorn Bjoro:

A system that wears people down
MHS's home page, 27 September 2015
 – :  Deficient rule of law in child protection cases in Norway
MHS's home page, 25 July 2015
Jan Simonsen:
Had to sit in the audience
MHS's home page, 4 December 2015
 – :  Poland with new legislation to protect Polish children against Norwegian Barnevern
MHS's home page, 3 January 2017
Marianne Haslev Skånland:
Norwegian non-humans again
Stavanger CPS ()-Barnevernet – The India case – and now a Bollywood film
MHS's home page, 22 March 2023
 – :  Judgment in Poland: a nine-year-old girl NOT to bextradited to Norway
MHS's home page, 11 December 2014

 – :  A child protection case Malaysia / Sweden
MHS's home page, article collection 22 February 2014
 – :  A new BBC documentary on Norwegian child protection
MHS's home page, 15 August 2018
 – :  The Norwegian children's ombudsman: The child protection people are magnificent
MHS's home page, 22 December 2014

Inger Elisabeth Baunedal:
Norwegian child protection Barnevernet – past expiry date?
MHS's home page, 1 January 2017
Anita Skippervik:
Ben McPherson's ideas of Norwegian child protection
MHS's home page, 24 August 2018
Erik Rolfsen:
Child protection and the emperor's new clothes
MHS's home page, 15 September 2015