Dr V.Rukmini Rao: India's Adoption Market al la Frontline
Naturally we are pleased that a national magazine like Frontline has highlighted the issue of India's Adoption Market in a series of articles which can be viewed via:
But on the otherhand, Frontline's series contains scant new material, and has failed to highlight the main issue, namely the involvement of high level officials and politicians supporting a racket which chiefly amounts to the trafficking of girl infants in the guise of adoption
Frontline's series also creates the impression that it was the officials who were responsible for exposing the scam. This was not the case, at least not in Andhra Pradesh. Rather, it was Gramya which took great risks to identify high level culprits and it was Gramya and various other women's organizations and NGO's in the state who campaigned to expose the scandal.We found only two good officers who were prepared to support us.
Also within the current Frontline series, the previous CARA Chairperson is painted as being a concerned person, but it will be recalled that her past was one of protecting the culprits responsible for baby trafficking; while under her leadership, CARA played a bystander's role, taking the stance that it was the state government which should act ,while knowing full well that it was helpless to do so. CARA also refused to work with myself and colleagues at Gramya in our Campaign to change the laws governing adoption,though we have forced CARA to be accountable to some extent.
In spite of the positive role of the then-state government to bring an end to international adoptions, it failed to request that the central government make changes to India's laws governing international adoption. As a result,the adoption game continues to this day: Agencies which are criminal in nature continue to be granted adoption licenses, as too there are instances where political influence and/or money has been used to overturn the cancellation of an adoption licence. As an example , the Christian Tender Loving Care Home successfully regained its adoption license via the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, and has since tossed a red herring before the courts with a claim that its de-licensing was a case of minority persecution.
In the state of Andhra Pradesh, demands continue that the Director General of Police be asked to step down while his wife is undergoing trial for her role in the trafficking of girl infants in the guise of adoption. But Frontline's series fails to mention that Peter Subbiah, charged by the police for unlawfully selling infants, the overwhelming majority of whom were female, has escaped penalty altogether, and is instead threatening to sue the officer who had him locked up. Others like Subbiah are also destinedto escape penalty because these children of the poorest of the poor have neither voice nor vote.
The most important issue, mentioned in this Frontline series, but glossed over, is the dismal status of women in the country and the gender discrimination which has led to the sale of female infants. The truth is that unemployment, landlessness, illiteracy, the almost complete absence of health services, and also the increasing greed amongst the elite, has driven poor women and men to sell their babies.
The Future? As activists we continue to focus attention on the basic development issues. Gramya and other women's groups have met with the Governor of Andhra Pradesh demanding that good officers be protected, and that he intervene personally with the government to improve services to poor women.
India's Adoption Market now has a shameful history spanning several decades:The first known case of fraudulent adoption and infant selling came to light in the eighties in in the state of Andhra Pradesh. In 2005, it is time to say ENOUGH IS MORE THAN ENOUGH: Stop international adoptions and instead promote national adoptions as our work to improve the living conditions of women is made even more difficult by the increased poverty due to the processes of globalization.
In sisterhood, peace and friendship, Rukmini
Dr. V. Rukmini Rao
Director, Centre for World Solidarity,
Hyderabad, AP, India
and Gramya Resource Centre for Women
Secunderabad, AP, India.