Does anybody care for this intersex infant?

Does anybody care for this intersex infant?

With abandoned child under its care, ill-equipped govt caught in a cleft stick

Does anybody care for this intersex infant?

The sudden entry of an intersex infant under its care and protection has made the Department of Women and Child Development realise that it is ill-equipped to deal with such children.

For, neither the Juvenile Justice Act nor the Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) guidelines have been accommodative of ‘third gender’ children who are also victims of abandonment.

The infant in question is now three months old and was orphaned shortly after its birth on September 3. Its 14-year-old mother, who was subjected to sexual abuse, has no means to support it.

She surrendered the child to the Bengaluru District Child Protection Unit on October 5, which subsequently handed it over to a state-funded non-governmental organisation in the City.

Delicate cases

The department is used to handling delicate cases, including HIV-positive and physically and mentally challenged children who are also put up for adoption. It, however, has been in a state of predicament for the last three months ever since it became the custodian of this child.

According to Divya Narayanappa, Bengaluru District Child Protection Officer, this is the first time an intersex child has been handed over to the State’s care.
The infant’s ambiguous external genitalia are making it difficult to determine its sex. CARA secretary Veerendra Mishra, who was recently in the City, apprehending problems, is said to have directed the department not to enlist the child for adoption as yet.

As per the guidelines, any child that has been orphaned and declared ‘legally free for adoption’ has to be put up for adoption within two months by childcare institutions receiving it.

Doctors at the Indira Gandhi Institute of Child Health and a private hospital have so far performed blood tests and also the ‘Cortisol’ test to determine the level of hormone count in the child’s blood.

A ‘testosterone’ test will be conducted next. Narayanappa said eventually the child may be put up for intercountry adoption, as the department fears no Indian will adopt the child.

Child Welfare Committee member Vijay Kumar B also said the committee had never before come across such a case.

“It is a fact that the department does not have the wherewithal to handle such cases. It is unfortunate that the Juvenile Justice Act is completely mute on this subject. The Centre should frame clear guidelines after holding consultations with the said communities. We don’t even have rehabilitation centres for such children,” he said.

Broader guidelines

Calling for broader adoption guidelines, transgender Akkai, founder of Ondede, said the department should hold a meeting of legal experts before arriving at any decision, including sexual alteration of the child’s genitalia.