The intercountry adoption business in Nepal has created a culture of child abuse including the abduction, trafficking and sale of children, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and a non-governmental organization (NGO) said in a report released today.
“Child rights, not profit, must be at the centre of all adoptions in Nepal,” says the study by UNICEF and Terre des Hommes (Tdh), an international NGO.
“An industry has grown up around adoption in which profit rather than the best interests of the child takes centre stage,” said UNICEF Nepal Representative, Gillian Mellsop.
Only four out of every 100 children adopted in Nepal are adopted by a Nepali family and many children put up for adoption are not orphaned but are separated from their families.
Of the some 15,000 children in orphanages or children’s homes, a significant number of admissions in these homes are a result of fraud, coercion or malpractice, according to the 62-page report.
The report’s main recommendation is the cessation of intercountry adoption until safeguards are in place protecting the rights of children in orphanages and significantly raising their standard of care.
“The vast majority of children in centres don’t need to be there,” said Joseph Aguettant, Tdh Country Representative in Nepal.
“They have family… The first priority, therefore, should be to reunite 80 per cent of the children in institutions with their families, not to re-open intercountry adoption.”
Although UNICEF and Tdh welcomed the news that the Government will ratify the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Cooperation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (1993), they emphasized that ratification and enactment of domestic legislation should take place before intercountry adoption procedures resume.