Rani Mukerji’s Mrs Chatterjee Vs Norway, a film based on an Indian couple who fought the Norway government for the custody of their children, has drawn a sharp response from the country. The Norwegian Ambassador to India called the movie a “work of fiction” and said it had factual inaccuracies.
Mrs Chatterjee vs Norway follows the story of an Indian immigrant couple whose world came crashing down in 2011 when their two children were removed from their care by the Norwegian foster system due to differences in culture.
“Children will never be taken away from their families based on cultural differences described. Eating with their hands or having children sleeping in bed with their parents are not considered practices harmful to children and are not uncommon in Norway, irrespective of cultural background,” the Norwegian Embassy said in its statement, stressing that “some general facts must be set right”.
“The reason for placing children in alternative care is if they are subject to neglect, violence or other forms of abuse.”
Norwegian Ambassador Hans Jacob Frydenlund asserted that Norway is a democratic, multicultural society.
“In Norway, we value and respect different family systems and cultural practices, also when these are different to what we are accustomed to – apart from corporal punishment in the upbringing. There is zero tolerance for violence in any shape or form,” he said in the statement shared on Twitter.
Child welfare, said Norway’s statement, is “not driven by profit” and refuted the alleged claim made in the film that “the more children put into the foster system, the more money they make”. “Alternative care is a matter of responsibility and is not a money making entity,” it said.
The Norway envoy said children are placed in alternative care when they face neglect or are “subject to violence or other forms of abuse.”
The statement highlighted that “such experiences” are difficult for those involved in it and that “child welfare cases are not easy” for the children, parents, and the Child Welfare Service.
While taking away Sagarika Chatterjee’s children, the Norwegian government had alleged that she fed her kids using her hands. The couple was also accused of beating their children, not giving them enough room to play and giving them “unsuitable” clothes and toys.
After a diplomatic row between the two countries, the Norwegian authorities handed custody of the children to their uncle, enabling him to bring them back to India. Sagarika had to approach the court for custody after her marriage broke down.