A film inspired by a real-life family law case in which an immigrant mother from India had her children removed by Norway’s child protection services has gone viral on the internet.
The film, which is titled, “Mrs Chatterjee Vs Norway”, is believed to be based on the 2011 case of Sagarika Chakraborty, a mother who fought the Norwegian child protection system to try to get her children back, after a court in Norway ruled the children should be taken into foster care.
There’s a lot of content online about the case, some of which alleges that social workers in Norway never gave Chakraborty an explanation as to why her son and daughter were taken from her, that social workers were racially abusive towards her, and used irrational and absurd reasoning to suggest she was a bad parent.
The film, which was released on 17 March, has drawn criticism from Norway’s Ambassador to India, calling the story factually inaccurate. You can watch the real-life Mrs Chatterjee (Sagarika Chakraborty) counter the claim in this recent interview on news outlet The Quint’s YouTube channel.
Norway’s child protection system has caused consternation among international child welfare bodies and human rights experts. In 2005, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child expressed concern “at the number of children removed from families” in Norway and placed in foster care. The Committee reminded Norway that it had a duty to protect people’s human right to a family life with their natural relatives and only place children in care as a last resort, and where it was genuinely in the best interests of the child.
Another case eight years after Chakraborty’s in Norway also made the headlines and broke new ground. In 2019, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that a child services agency had breached a mother and her son’s rights by forcibly removing her son and giving him to a foster family, several years after he was removed from her custody as a newborn.
The grand chamber of the European Court of Human Rights held that Norway’s Barnevernet child services agency had violated Trude Lobben and her son’s rights to family life, and had not carried out adequate investigations into the mother’s parenting skills or provided adequate evidence to bolster its claim that the child was vulnerable, and that adoption was in his best interest.
Chakraborty’s — and Lobben’s — experiences will resonate with families in the UK who have been involved with Britain’s child protective services, as both countries share many historic and current similarities in the way their child protection processes run.
The film itself has done very well at the box office in India, and includes a raft of big names from Indian cinema, including actress Rani Mukerji.
- Mrs Chatterjee vs Norway: The real story behind an Indian mother’s fight
- Mrs. Chatterjee Vs Norway Official Trailer, 17th March 2023
- Man, Woman, Child….and the State? Lessons from the True Story behind Mrs Chatterjee vs Norway
Many thanks to Vics North East for nudging us to do a post on this film, and for the second and third links in the list above.