Israeli horror as sex abuser adopts girl, 4
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Israeli authorities are at a legal standstill over the adoption of a four-year-old Indian-born girl by a man convicted of sex offences against young children.
The man, who is Israeli, legally gained custody of the child through an agreement with a surrogate mother in India and, under current legislation, the authorities do not have the power to remove the girl from him.
According to an independent probe conducted by the Israel National Council for the Child (NCC), an NGO for children's rights, the man served a year and a half in jail for sexually abusing young children while they were under his supervision, some repeatedly, and is recognised as a paedophile by the authorities.
The NCC, which had been tipped off about the man's past anonymously via email, informed the police, local social workers and the girl's school which, apparently, had been unaware of the father's prior convictions.
The welfare authorities have placed the man under observation and ordered him to seek psychological treatment.
Foreign surrogacies have surged in recent years as potential parents - particularly homosexual couples who under Israeli law are barred from using surrogates in Israel - have been willing to travel further and pay more in order to circumvent the protracted procedures in their home country.
"In the past six years, 200 children have come to Israel via foreign surrogacy," said NCC Executive Director Dr Yitzhak Kadman. "This case is a good wake up call that there are changes that have to be made."
In contrast to the rigorous interviews and background checks required of new parents undergoing surrogacy and adoption in Israel, parents of adopted children from surrogates abroad are subjected to more lenient screenings.
Moreover, it will be difficult to implement improved legislation in a system that is already inadequate.
Every year, Israeli social services provide medical and psychological treatment to only 15 per cent of the thousands of children who report sexual abuse, as found by Orly Levy-Abekasis, Chairperson of the Knesset Committee on Children's Rights.
In response to a letter from Dr Kadman to Health Minister Yael German, the ministry said it was considering new policies to secure the protection of children born in overseas surrogacies.