5. FAMILY ENVIRONMENT AND ALTERNATIVE CARE (ARTICLES. 5, 9, 11, 18 (PARAS. 1 AND 2), 19-21, 25, 27 (PARA. 4) and 39)
(A) Family environment and parental guidance in a manner consistent with the evolving capacities of the child (article 5)
Tradition and culture of Nepal favours a joint family system, keeping in view the best interests of child. Due to the long internal conflict, Nepal faced an increased rate of migration from rural to urban areas. In addition, the traditional joint-family system is gradually being replaced by the nuclear family system. With the huge trend of labour migration, many families are living with their breadwinners away from the family of origin for a long time.
(B) Parents’ common responsibilities, assistance to parents and provision of childcare services (article 18)
The legal aspects of parental responsibility are described in paragraphs 159 to 165 of the initial report.
Around 65 children living with their parents in prison have been reintegrated with their kith and kin during this reporting period17. The GoN policy is to reintegrate the children living with their parents in prison to their immediate families. This has not been fully possible due to lack of human and financial resources. The GoN is seeking technical and financial assistance to increase accountability to ensure that enough resources, systems and structures are in place.
(C) Separation from parents (article 9)
It is estimated that 5 per cent of children under the age of 15 years are not living with their biological parent and living with others within the family or away from family18.
The MoWCSW has provided emergency support to children living away from their parents due to various reasons including the conflict19.
(D) Family reunification (article 10)
The MoWCSW has adopted a policy to implement all programs on child welfare through the community-based approach and subsequently mobilizing CBOs.
The children’s homes publish notices of 35 days in all leading national newspapers and audio-visual media for parents or communities to identify their children before finally declaring them “abandoned” and kept in the centres. However, there is no data available on the number of children reunited with their families through these children’s homes and this mechanism risks to seriously undermining family preservation and puts children at high risk of abandonment, even if they still have family care options.
(E) Recovery of maintenance for the child (article 27, para. 4)
The legal provisions of recovery and maintenance are already reported in the initial report (paras. 184-186).
The legal provisions on divorce, child custody and adoption have been revised to make them gender friendly. The revised provisions give the first right to custody of children to the mother in case she is capable of looking after them. The General Code (Muluki Ain) ensures the payment for the living expenses by father. The children have the right to property of their father as well as mother at later stage. The father gets the right to custody and care in case the mother is not able to care for the children.
(F) Children deprived of a family environment (article 20)
The legislative framework is described in the initial report, paragraphs 188 to 189.
The children deprived of a family environment are being taken care of by the GoN and non-governmental child homes being operated at various places. About 602 child homes are operational in 38 districts of the country20.
(G) Periodic review of placement (article 25)
Section 19 of the Terms and Conditions for Adoption of (Nepali children) to Foreign Citizen 2009, has provision for submitting a report about the adopted child’s condition including nurturing, health and education (as well as a postcard size photograph) by the adoptive parents to the MoWCSW through the Embassy of Nepal in the adoptive parents’ country. The GoN has faced difficulties in conducting periodic review as from the moment an adopted child receives foreign citizenship, the responsibility for post-placement supervision rests with the receiving country rather than with the GoN.
The GoN is taking initiatives to overcome the difficulties encountered in the effective implementation of the CRC, and to put in place the administrative measures necessary for reviewing the placement of the children in line with the provisions of the countries where the child is adopted.
(H) Adoption, national and inter-country (article 21)
Nepal signed the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in respect of Inter Country Adoption on 28 April 2009. After signing “The Hague Convention”, the MoWCSW has formed an Inter-country Adoption Management Committee on 14 May 2010 to regulate adoption effectively. The GoN has enforced legal provisions under the General Code that allows foreign national to adopt any citizen of Nepal, who may be adopted as a son or daughter in accordance with the law. The General Code further clarifies that the GoN may, after considering the character and economic condition of such a foreign national and on recommendation of the concerned foreign government or embassy, permits adoption of a son or daughter on such terms and conditions as the GoN may consider appropriate.
The MoWCSW has made a decision that no stray children traced by the police would be granted for inter-country adoption. The Ministry has made necessary arrangements for the protection of such child.
Reforms on inter-country adoption process have been made to make it more systematic and transparent and to avoid a situation where children with family are sent for inter-country adoption. An Inter-country Adoption Management Committee has been established as the central authority for inter-country adoption. Family Matching Committee is also established to match the parent for a child.
The provision of spending at least 90 days in an orphanage as one of the major criteria to be eligible for inter-country adoption is being implemented strictly. Before initiating inter-country adoption process, the orphanages need to give priority to the domestic adoption by inviting applications through national newspapers and other media.
The total figure for inter-country adoption from 1993 to 2008 was 2,23421. The inter-country adoption process, completely closed for almost two years, was reopened in January 2009 with several modifications in administrative requirements. From January 2009 to the end of the reporting period, 12722 children have been permitted by competent authority for inter-country adoption.
(I) Illicit transfer and non-return (article 11)
The legislative framework is described in the initial report, paragraphs 201 to 202.
Many NGOs are active on implementing preventive measures including running interception and rehabilitation centers for the children at risk and victims of trafficking. The centers run by the NGOs in the border areas to intercept girls being trafficked and conduct awareness programs with the help of the returnee girls from India are examples of successful preventive measures undertaken. The MoWCSW has been running the Women Empowerment and Rehabilitation Centers. These Centers run social work programs including income-generating activities that are targeted especially to selected women from 26 trafficking prone districts. These women then become active in raising awareness against trafficking through specific programs and surveillance mechanisms.
The GoN is taking effective measures to prevent recruitment of children in circus in India. Total 79 children (4 boys and 75 girls) were rescued from the circus in India and rehabilitated with the assistance of NGOs during the reporting period.
(J) Abuse and neglect (article 19), including physical and psychological recovery and social reintegration (article 39)
The Nepal Police has established the Women and Children Service Centres in Kathmandu and in all district police offices. These centres aim to control crime against children and women, conduct investigations into cases reported, and provide essential support to the victims. The Service Centres provide support to the victims of the cases of child marriage, forced marriages, trafficking, child labour, child sexual abuse, cases of rape, marital rape, sexual abuse, domestic violence and other civil and criminal offences against children and women. Many development partners are supporting this initiative of the Nepal Police. The Women and Children Service Centres of Nepal Police in all districts work in coordination with local NGOs to provide referral services to victims. The police officers are trained to receive, monitor and investigate complaints and ensure the prosecution of cases of child abuse, exploitation and neglect. These services are widely advertised, using audio-visual media, including in local languages.
The GoN established the National Centre for Children at Risk in 2006 and has widely publicized telephone Numbers 104 and 4226006 as the emergency numbers to report cases of missing children. Once reported, and if a child is found, he/she is reintegrated with his/her family. The National Centre for Children at Risk found 1,344 missing children (777 boys and 567 girls) during the year 2009 and 201023. In addition, Child Help Line (1098) is operational in 13 districts of the country to provide appropriate services to children at risk. The National Centre for Children at Risk is operating in Kathmandu.
At the community level, the GoN has been supporting a network of more than 700 PLCs and community-based groups almost entirely formed by women who focus on raising awareness on the rights of women and children, provide immediate and front line support to victims and facilitate the referral of cases to relevant district authorities.
During the reporting period, the GoN continued its efforts to ensure that legislations, policies and procedures are in place to facilitate the identification, reporting, referral, investigation, treatment and follow-up of cases of child abuse.