Indian Catholic News

Nagaland: NGOs want government to act on customary law for adoption

"Taking children without any official procedure is a normal practice in the Naga society which is equal to human trafficking,” an activist said.

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The Naga NGOs Forum (NNF) has appealed to the Nagaland government to deliberate and discuss the Juvenile Justice (Care And Protection of Children) Act (JJA) 2015 in regards to child adoption, for adaptation and logical implementation in the state.

This appeal by the NNF was made at the first state consultation on child adoption in Naga society on Tuesday at Tourist Lodge in Dimapur, which was attended by members of various NGOs, civil society, district adminstration, police department; and church leaders.

During the consultation, the attendees affirmed to continue with the prevailing customary practices and laws governing adoption among the various Naga tribes in the state.

The principal of Tetso College Dr. PS Lorin, while addressing the meeting on ‘Naga customary practice of Child adoption and indigenous perspectives’, said that in Naga society, adoption was taking place within the community and it has not gone beyond the village/tribe. The Naga society, he said, was still practicing ‘illegal’ adoption.

“There was no written customary law on child adoption and we have been following the oral practice. Unless we have a clear written law, who is going to interpret the law?” Lorin questioned. He further remarked that adoption in the present context has no boundaries and likewise customary practice should be open while embracing emotional dedication in the process of adoption.

The Gaon Bura(GB) Federation in their remark asserted that rural population constitutes 80% of the Naga society and will continue to follow customary practices. The federation affirmed that as custodians of the Naga society, Nagas will strictly stick to customary practices but if there were any improvements with the laws for the good of a child, the federation would certainly welcome the development.

The director of Prodigals Home K Ela pointed out that there were lots of illegal adoption and confusion, violating the rights of a child in the Naga society and when the child grew up, he/she is without an identity. The society, she asserted, was ignorant of the CARA regulations and also the Naga customary practice of adoption.

“Taking children without any official procedure or ‘khushi-khushi’ (in one’s own way) is a normal practice in the Naga society which is equal to human trafficking,” the social activist pointed out.

The principal of City Law College Leonard Aier questioned if the JJA has been adopted by the Nagaland Legislative Assembly (NLA); and raised concern that if the state is blindly following the CARA regulations, then it is in conflict with Article 371(A). “If we follow the CARA regulations there will be conflict with the law of the land and this issue needs to be raised in the NLA so that it is discussed in the Parliament,” Aier suggested.

A representative from the Naga Mothers’ Association (NMA) suggested ‘positive’ adoption, where inheritance of property—if adoption was within the family—should be included in the customary law.

She also added that adoption by legal guardian should be considered and inter-state and international adoption should be taken into consideration in the customary law.

The managing director of Wondang-Ki Charitable Foundation, NT Kikon pointed out that in the Naga society, a parent is willing to adopt a girl child but not willing to accept the truth of not bearing a male child. He stated that a male child, in most of the orphan homes in the state, is refused for adoption as no families are willing to adopt him because of property inheritance issues.

Therefore, he suggested for amendments of the JJA in the state.

Source: easternmirrornagaland

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