19/05/2012 - As cases of baby abandonment rise in New Delhi, child rights advocates are campaigning for parents to “surrender” their newborns to government officials instead of abandoning them.
Child Rights advocates feel that members of the public remain unaware of a provision in law, the surrender clause of the Juvenile Justice (Amendment) Act 2006, which allows people to surrender babies if the biological parents cannot, under any circumstance, raise their child themselves.
Advocates feel that if this provision was more well known, many children would have a better chance at life if they could be given over to government authorities instead of abandoned.
It has been found that regarding child abandonment, in the majority of the cases in India the parents belong to middle and lower middle class families. There has also been in Increase of cases due in large part to broken marriages and rapes.
The act allowing for child surrender also covers sensitive situations such as unwed mothers, and it guarantees to maintain the secrecy of the individual surrendering the baby. Unwed mothers are the demographic of New Delhi with the highest rate of child abandonment.
According to the Child Welfare Committee (CWC), at least 18 children were surrendered with the Child Welfare Committee in West Delhi in the past three years.
Neera Mullick, Chairman of CWC in West Delhi`s Jail Road, stated that they need to be very careful in examining and investigating some cases for child abandonment, as according to her "There have been few incidents when the parents were well versed to raise the baby but due to their personal differences they did not want to raise them.”
According to CWC, on average they receive 3-4 requests every six months for surrendering children. When somebody approaches CWC for surrendering a baby after a counselling session, they are registered and are given a time period of 60 days for the reconsideration of their decision.
Then after this, if the parents are convinced to surrender their baby, the CWC takes the custody of the baby and hence the baby is available for adoption.
The CWC has a strong partnership with SOS Children’s Villages India. Dr Naveen Pathak, Director of SOS Children`s Village, said that they have received 29 surrendered children in five years from six Child Welfare Committees operating in the capital. "We do have legal and more human alternates to child abandonment but people do not know about these provisions," he said.