COVID causes India’s orphan crisis; experts fear being ignored and abused | Coronavirus pandemic news
Three days after their father died of the coronavirus, six-year-old twins Tripti and Pari were found sleeping next to their mother, unaware that she was also a victim.
In the new pandemic wave sweeping through India, thousands of children have lost one or two parents. In India, there are already millions of orphans. The prospect of a proliferation of abandoned minors worries many people.
Tripti and Pari (whose names have been changed) are now under the care of their mother’s uncle Ramesh Singh.
Singh said: “I keep telling the girls that their parents will go home soon.” Her name was also changed to protect the identities of the children.
“I don’t want to tell them the truth now… they are still too young.”
Singh said their heartbroken mother rejected her normal diet after her husband’s death, which made it more difficult for her to recover from the coronavirus.
When repeated knocks were of no avail, relatives poured water on the girls from the windows to keep them open.
When the doctor arrived and announced that their mother had died, they were taken away.
While caring for the twins, this pandemic (which kills thousands of people every day) is leaving others unattended.
The head of UNICEF in India, Yasmin Haque, stated that such children “not only live in emotional tragedies, but are also extremely likely to be neglected, abused and exploited.”
In another case, the Indian media reported last month that a baby was found next to his mother. The baby had been dead for 48 hours and his neighbor was worried about contracting the virus.
In India, the official pandemic death toll exceeds 270,000, although it is generally believed that the actual number is much higher because many people died outside the overwhelmed medical system.
Cybersecurity expert Akancha Srivastava said: “We don’t know how many people are dying, let alone how many orphans there are.”
However, online evidence shows the scale of the disruption.
Social media calls on people to provide breast milk and food for babies who have lost their mothers.
Some coronavirus orphans are also being illegally adopted on social media.
Srivastava said that her helpline receives at least 300 calls and messages every day.
“Our authorities have a heavy burden and people feel annoyed. In this case, it is very easy to mistakenly assign children to some trafficking rackets or to adopt rackets,” she said.
According to Indian law, if there are no relatives to take care of, orphans must be met by government officials and placed in shelters.
Smriti Irani, Minister of Women and Child Development of India, warned this month that adopting informal methods to adopt COVID-19 orphans is “trap” and “illegal.”
Agence France-Presse reported that it received a message on WhatsApp that included a two-year-old girl and a two-month-old boy for adoption.
The news said: “Children of Brahmins”, implying that these children are Hindus in the upper class. Since then, the contact number has been closed and is under investigation by the authorities.
According to the Children’s Rights NGO Protsahan India Foundation, children whose parents have died or are ill are reduced to selling vegetables on the streets.
The Foundation’s Sonal Kapoor said: “We are looking for a generation of extremely painful and severely traumatized children who will grow into broken adults.”
She said that in the recent pandemic, children were the first to bear the brunt, including incest and sex trafficking cases.
Dhananjay Tingal of Bachpan Bachao Andolan told AFP that the child welfare organization receives about 50 calls a day, which is a lot more than last year.
“This is not the first time children have become orphans. But this time, children have to face it alone…Even if you hug a child in pain, there are some obstacles,” he said.
Some civil society groups have urged parents to prepare a backup plan in case they get sick.
At least for Tripti and Pari, their mother’s uncle is seeking to adopt them formally.
“They have great parents. I hope I can help these girls realize their dreams,” he said.