Saturday, 11 April 2015

Child protection as part of eugenics movement

"A propos Sumedha Sarvadaman’s article, "Save Indian Children from First World Governments," when one closely reads through the different child welfare cases in western Europe — particularly those in the Nordic countries — one finds a litany of expressions like ‘incapable mother’, ‘inattentive father’ being sprouted forth as rationale for removing the children from their biological parents."

"These statements clearly smack of the eugenics ideal of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ parenting, which triggered in this writer’s mind an interest in investigating the causal linkage between eugenics and child welfare practices in western European welfare states..."

"The ‘science’ of eugenics traces its origins to the end-19th century idea of biological hereditary race and human species with the first and most comprehensive enunciation of eugenics being captured in a book, Hereditary Genius (1869) by Francis Galton. Galton can be termed as the founding father of modern eugenics. His ideas initiated formation of eugenics societies across the Western world."

"With the Nazi-Fascist appropriation of the idea of eugenics, which sought to justify their reprehensible and disgusting racist extermination policies, the ‘science’ acquired an odious character and was discarded as a respectable discipline."

"Despite this nasty taint, eugenics programmes persisted in countries like Sweden and Denmark even through the post-War decades till the early 1970s, and family along with children remained central to the implementation and focus of eugenics policy..."

"Sterilisation, both forced and voluntary, which prevented individuals from breeding ‘socially undesirable’ children, formed one of the key instruments of implementation of eugenics policies. To quote a valid statistic, in Sweden about 62,000 sterilisations were performed between the years 1935 and 1975 with active support of the social democratic movements (Spektorowski & Mizrarchi, 2004). Hence, the notion of ‘ideal’ children and family remained a core theme of the eugenics philosophy."

"Many perceive the fascist embrace of eugenics as an aberration, which is rather misleading since one of the leading slogans of the Nazis were ‘Kirche, Kueche, Kinder’, which translates to ‘Church, Kitchen, Children’, where child-rearing practices formed a core part of their party programme for a ‘pure’ society besides the idea of a ‘big state’ that transcended individual and family interests and acted in the greater collective good of humanity remained a shared thought between eugenics and Fascists."

"In post-War western Europe, the influential study by Alva Myrdal and Viola Klein, "Women’s Two Roles: Home and Work," dictated family and child welfare policies where she postulated the ‘Children First’ idea. Children were perceived beyond the context of the immediate family and as the ‘future’ where their well-being and welfare became broader concerns for society."

"Eugenics child welfare policies, affirming faith in the notion of ‘parental licensing’ plan, were initially proposed by Galton and then furthered by LaFollette, JC Westman and David Lykken in the 20th century. The fundamental premise of the proposed parent licensing plan is that some couple are ‘unfit’ to rear children and that their children would be undesirable members of society!"

"The criteria for ‘fitness’ varied from mental illnesses, intelligence to lifestyle-related social ills like drug abuse, alcoholism to far more nebulous aspects like attentiveness and caring affection towards children.."

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