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Babies aren’t possessions, we know. However, sometimes the desire to have them is so strong that some people are willing to go to any lengths. How has it come to pass that humans have begun to barter children illegally for money? Let’s find out.
With a large number of India’s population falling near or under the poverty line, you’d think there is no dearth of opportunity for adopting these homeless and parentless children. What’s more, scores of couples abandon their children on account of gender discrimination, unwanted pregnancies, etc., and these babies then end up in orphanages. You’d think that every childless couple would have umpteen opportunities to finally have their own child through adoption. Yet, there is a growing black market for babies which is rumoured to be trending at a going rate of INR 8 Lakh and more, complete with birth certificates!
With such “businesses” cropping up, it is safe to assume that the Indian government would create laws to protect these precious little lives that are being traded, and to curb the trade altogether. But what if it is the “law” itself that is unintentionally causing desperate couples to resort to such trades?
Unveiling the Crime of Child Trafficking
Not too long ago in February 2017, West Bengal police unveiled a child-trafficking racket that had a lot of nurses and doctors covering their faces in shame. The babies were at a state-run home and a lot of NGO workers too were involved in this racket.
It was only later that one distraught mum, Kanon Sarkar, discovered what had happened with her husband and her at the time of her delivery.
Kanon Sakar was told her baby had died. Her daughter was declared dead by the doctors so their only choice was to accept the news. The staff at the hospital handed the distraught parents a corpse, wrapped in white with just the eyes visible so that the family could perform the rituals in a river nearby in accordance to their Hindu beliefs.
“I spent 15 hours with my baby … she was very beautiful. I couldn’t even imagine having such a beautiful baby.” – Kanon Sarkar
There was a lack of evidence that any medical tests had been carried out. But the family had to accept this tragedy – after all, the doctors had confirmed the death, and they would surely have tried their best, right?
It was only when the West Bengal case got busted that Kanon reeled back in shock. She recognised one of the doctors involved as her own doctor! This was when she became sure that her precious little one had not died, but had definitely been sold.
Kanon is not alone. Thousands of innocent parents have been cheated, their babies mercilessly being sold to desperate couples.
What Fuels This Illegal Adoption of Babies
The Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) is a body that regulates adoptions in India. According to the latest statistics, there are 30,000,000 couples that are looking at adopting children, but only 50,000 orphans registered on the system who are up for adoption. There is an obvious gap. This gap is the major reason why some couples are seeking such desperate measures.
How Cara Works
- Prospective parents have to register online with the Child Adoption Resource Information and Guidance Sytem.
- Once the hisotry and background of the parents/parent has been studied, a home study report is created by the adoption agency./li>
- This remains valid for two years and is what is considered when the prospective parents attempt any adoption during that period.
- Once the period of waiting is over (this varies according to the system and the date of registration by the parent), photogrpahs of 6 children are sent to the parents so that they may pick their child.
- This “selection” must be completed in 15 days.
In March 2017, the number of couples on the waiting list were 15,000! There’s no wonder that these couples are at the point of desperation and urgency to gain a child and would go to any lengths to get one.
The new system has turned out to be very stringent and has put prospective parents in a place with far fewer options than in the earlier system.
If you think about it, there is very little difference in the procedure for illegal adoptions and legal ones. You get a “legitimate birth certificate” and put your name as the parents both ways. While this train of thought doesn’t justify illegal adoptions in any way, it seems to be the thought pushing couples in that direction. It is quicker and easier than going through the lawful way, even though it is more expensive!
That said, think of the many parents like Kanon, who were cheated into believing that their little ones were dead. When in fact, their blessing was SOLD to another set of parents – people who had no clue of the lives that were being wrecked. How messed up is that?
What Can One Do To Protect Themselves Against The Black Market Practice
The first step which we as parents and prospective parents must take is to be very careful while choosing a doctor and hospital for delivery. It is very important to choose a doctor who is reputed, has a clean slate and a fully validated background. At a vulnerable time like pregnancy, trusting your doctor comes naturally, as it should, and you must ensure that the doctor indeed is trustworthy.
Secondly, there needs to be way for all orphanages to register their babies on CARA – even the ones that do not have access to moder technology, just so that the babies there have a fair chance at a better life. Orphanages over India are filling with innocent, abandoned lives day after day, and these children deserve happy homes with parents who are longing to shower a child with all their love. We hope this is a step that the Indian government takes on Priority.
Illegal trade of babies is not only extremely cruel and heart-breaking, it is also a crime. We hope that such horrendous practices get unveiled and stopped as soon as possible, so that there is some dignity left for the lives that are being sold, and happiness can return to the hearts of the many parents who are mourning the loss of their babies.