The recent appalling news of a Bihar shelter for girls being a horror home where the girls were raped and abused is not an isolated case.
On 23rd July, it was reported that a government-run shelter for girls known as Sewa Sankalp Evam Vikas Samiti in Muzaffarpur, Bihar. The shelter has been in the news for the rape of 40 minor girls who live in the shelter.
Trigger warning: This post contains some descriptions of violence against women and paedophilia that some readers may find hard to read.
On reaching the shelter, one of the residents explained to the police the hardships they have faced and alleged that a girl was beaten to death on campus after having raised an issue against the authorities. She also said that the body of her fellow-resident was buried underground. The police have now begun digging the ground to find the body.
21 of the girls have also been tested, out of which 16 have been confirmed, by assigned doctors, to have been subjected to rape. The reports on the rest of the girls are still pending. Based on the confirmed reports, the people responsible have been arrested by the police.
The shelter has also made an appearance in the news once in May following a report by The Tata Institute of Social Science (TISS), which talks of the horrendous crimes that the girls of the Muzaffarpur shelter have been subjected to. This audit was then submitted to the Bihar government, which later shut down the shelter.
The co-owners of the shelter, Brajesh Thakur and Vineet Kumar, have been arrested as well, along with the staff members. At least thirty of the survivors have been suffering from irreparable trauma and have also attempted suicide.
It’s frightening how common such acts have become in our country and how so many of the perpetrators walk scot free. It’s even more frightening how numb we, as a nation, have become to such news. The implication of such reactions is mind numbing.
Situations such as this one have occurred all over the country. To name a few we can start with the one in Samaypur Badli in Delhi wherein a minor girl was sexually abused by a 58-year-old manager of the care center. She was picked up by an NGO and sent to this center. On a surprise visit, the NGO officials found the young girl in the manager’s house. Investigation revealed that the manager had kept her in his house for a year and had also raped her.
Another such incident occurred in Jaipur in a shelter run by one Jacob John from Kerala for minors, from which 51 children were rescued. Most of the children were from Manipur and Nagaland; they were rescued by the Rajasthan State Commission for Protection of Child Rights along with social workers and activists. The children were found in a terrible state and living under horrendous conditions. The children there testified that the caretaker would sleep with one of the 51 girls every night.
Suparna Ka Aangan in Gurgaon, Haryana is another example of these ‘Houses of Horror’. It was an NGO run orphanage. The owner was aware of the sexual abuse that went on inside the shelter by the caretaker of the home itself.
Bal Kunj at Yamuna Nagar, again in Haryana, is a government-run shelter home. From here, a girl was found missing. Investigations revealed that many of the inmates had been sexually and physically abused.
Apna Ghar in Rohtak, Haryana in May 2012 has also had incidents such as these. The shelter had a surprise inspection following the running away of three girls from the shelter. This revealed heartbreaking tales of torture, sexual abuse, exploitation, child labour and even to the extent of forcing some of the inmate into prostitution. It was sealed in June 2012 and 120 inmates were rescued.
Any NGO or even an individual in India finds it relatively easy to obtain licenses to run children’s homes from the State or national authorities thus absolving the State of the responsibility of taking care of these marginalized children. This, sometimes, sadly means that children can be abused for as long as it goes unreported or unnoticed.
Having gone through so many of these cases, it’s appalling to know how difficult it is to cover the sheer number of incidents in one report – they are past counting and it is time the entire system was shaken up thoroughly.
Image via Pixabay used for representative purposes only
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