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NNF deliberates on customary laws governing child adoption

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Dimapur, August 20: Nagaland NGOs Forum (NNF) on Tuesday resolved to appeal to the Government of Nagaland to deliberate and discuss the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 in respect of child adoption for adaptation and logical implementation in the state of Nagaland to avoid its abuse and to maintain peace and harmony in the Naga society.
The resolution was adopted after a long session of consultation that took place here at Tourist Lodge, Dimapur, attended by representatives of various NGOs, student bodies, civil societies, and Government agencies.
The house also resolved to continue with the prevailing customary practices and laws governing adoption among various Naga tribes in the state of Nagaland.
Delivering the keynote address, Advisor NNF and Director of Prodigals’ Home, K Ela said adoption is an act of love but the process comes from law, and said if someone adopts a child khushi-khushi it is not adoption but trafficking.
She said throughout her association in this matter since 2011, she witnessed illegal adoption, violence, sufferings, and abuse, which are results of ignorance about CARA regulations as well as customary laws by the Nagas.
“We are neither here, nor there,” she said, mentioning that all that was being witnessed demanded that something should be done about it. She stated that it was in the year 2016 when the forum reached out to the Social Welfare Department pitching for the initiative to document the customary laws, which was accepted by the department, after which the tribes were approached and the result was a book.
“We are here to draw a line,” she said.
A representative of the Social Welfare Department/Child Protection Service made the attendants aware of the various provisions of Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) and provided a glimpse of the various aspects of adoptions in the state.
He said that young Naga couples tend to adopt only girls and not boys, and that too only those who belong to the Naga tribes of Nagaland and not of other states, but there isn’t much children up for adoption in the state. He mentioned that to bend the rules of adoption, it is necessary that the Juvenile Justice Act must be first ratified.
Dr PS Lorin, Principal, Tetso College, giving a perception about the Naga customary practice of child adoption and indigenous perspectives said that each village practices its own policy and adoption hasn’t gone out of villages or tribes.
He said that unless the customary laws are in a written form, who is going to interpret them, and it is now that the process must start, adding that morality, culture, and Christian ethics are going to be important to decide who can adopt whom.
He said that time is changing and things are going online and open around the world relating to adoption, and it is a thing to wonder if things can get such open in the Naga context too.
L. Shalem Konyak, President of GB Federation opined that while the GoI has allowed provision to the state under Article 371 (A), it can be compared to a locked box without a key which the Nagas cannot exercise. He said that the customary laws will be strictly followed as they are part of the Naga culture though there can be parts that can be amended.
During the discussion hour, City Law College (CLC) Principal, Leonard Aier raised concerns that the laws that come in effect in India should not be blindly accepted here as this will affect Naga society. He said that while the definition of adoption under Juvenile Justice Act is good, it can be dangerous for the Nagas and will lead to conflicts.
He added that human rights are not reality, but nationalistic feelings are and something needs to be done immediately as time is passing. (Page News Service)

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