Childhood Lost

February 2012. Darya Ganj. Delhi.

Arya Anathalaya at Darya Ganj in central Delhi has become the epicentre of a massive controversy after an 11-year-old girl died following alleged sexual abuse at the orphanage.

According to a report by HAQ: Centre for Child Rights, a majority of children – both boys and girls — the NGO interviewed, said they were subjected to sexual harassment, ill-treatment, eve-teasing and rape.”

March 2012. Thakurpukur. Kolkata.

“Twenty-eight minors, including 14 girls, were rescued from a home in Thakurpukur…”after an inmate complained of sexual abuse by the director of the home.”

“State CWC chairperson Minati Adhikari said the allegations of sexual exploitation were brought in against the director of the organization. The (CWC) team was also shocked to find that the director could not produce any document licensing the organization to keep the children.”

April 2012. Allahabad.

Three minor girls, including a mentally challenged were allegedly raped by a peon in Rajikiya Shishu Grih. This is an orphanage run by the social welfare department of the state government for children below 10 years of age.

The victims are said to be between six and nine years of age and were being subjected to physical and mental trauma by the peon, Vidya Bhushan Ojha, for the past couple of years.”

May 2012.  Gurgaon.

“Five minor girls of a Gurgaon orphanage  have allegedly been sexually abused, according to a complaint”. ..” the police have registered a case of rapeagainst 22-year-old Rashik, a former employee of the NGO.”

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Report after report of abuse of children in homes and orphanages.

 Some of these homes are run by doubtful persons without any necessary permissions from the authorities. Some are run by the state governments themselves. At least in state-run homes the children should have been safe.

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In the recent case of the Suparaana Ka Angan homeThe district administration shifted 19 orphans back to the premises of the NGO”. However, “12 women anganwadi members, two lady constables and one male constable have been stationed at the NGO premises to take care of the orphans.”

One wonders what difference it makes whether anganwadi workers and police constables are male or female, since it has been found that in most cases the abuse in orphanages takes place with the connivance of female staff.

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What is wrong with us as a society that we have ceased to be shocked by these reports?

Why does it not trouble us that such heinous crimes are committed in a so-called civilised society?

Why is there no outcry? Why are there no candle-light marches? Why is this question not taken up in Parliament on an urgent basis?

Children in these orphanages and shelters have no families to protect them. How we care for those who are weak and defenseless defines us as a society.

All around us we see that petty and superficial issues generate the most discussions in social groups, on television channels, even in parliament.

Cannot we instead spend some time, thought and effort  to devise ways to keep these children safe?

The government has proposed a change in the Juvenile Justice Act which will allow the government to take over unregistered orphanages and child-care homes.

It is proposed that these institutions will come under the direct supervision of the these institutions will come under direct supervision of the Child Welfare Committee (CWC).

While this seems to be a welcome step, it is also necessary that swift and harsh action is taken against those who are guilty of abusing the children. That would act as a deterrent to prevent further abuse.

Children are our future. Do they at least not have the right to grow up in a safe environment?

10 thoughts on “Childhood Lost”

  1. What is the point in the government taking over these institutions when even such homes are not above abusing the helpless children. Something is indeed wrong with us as a society. What can be said of it when words like culture and tradition are scoffed at as being hypocritical even while glorifying alien concepts as being the panacea? The society was not as depraved as it was even 50 years ago. Where did we go wrong?

    1. Indeed, in our rush to glorify everything from “the west”, we are throwing out our socially beneficial traditions along with the less desirable ones.

      Shelters and orphanages are necessary for homeless children, children whose parents are unable to take care of them, as well as runaways or juvenile offenders. However, it should be possible to assure the safety of the children residing in them!

      There seems to be a tendency nowadays to justify teen sex, teen pregnancies, and giving out unwanted children for adoption. I cannot help but think that the number of children in orphanages will increase because of this attitude…..

  2. Who would want us to believe that all this happens without involvment and connivance of police and local administration.?
    We,as a society have lost the plot

    1. Yes, unfortunately, we do seem to have lost the plot!

      I agree, these shocking incidents could not happen without the involvement of the local police & authorities.

  3. It is totally shocking..today also there is a re[port about some NGO exploiting the inmates..these NGOs are giving a bad name to all of them.and about govt.less said is better, most of their orphanages have neither any amenities nor any safety for the wards.

  4. Yes, there are NGOs doing commendable work, but these NGOs that exploit inmates give all of them a bad name.

    Some of the NGOs are headed by political leaders and are said to have been set up to facilitate laundering black money. No wonder they do not care about safety of their wards….

  5. It is very difficult to differentiate good NGOs and bad ones. So even if we want to help, we find it difficult to do so. In Chennai too, some famous NGOs are having bad rumours. We don’t know whether to believe it or not.

    1. So true, Sandhya- it is very difficult to know which NGOs are genuinely working for these children and which are not.

      I think the government should inspect them and publish a list of those which are doing good work. Of course, there will remain the question of whether we could trust this list or not…..

  6. Manju, after reading your post I did think if life was worth living anymore. Thinking what those poor kids may have had to undergo day after day wrenches my heart dry. I was reading somewhere how Honduras has the world’s highest murder rate and most of the victims there are poor. One politician campaigning for election has been making an unusual vote-winning promise: free funerals for all! That is how sick life can be. Instead of attempting to rein in the raging crime, the leaders there are addressing the shame of funerals. Why I am quoting this is to say that today we stand on an equally grisly station, if not worse. The Child Shelter homes have turned into a virtual funeral houses for the children. What is grislier than what is happening at Honduras, we are doing it to the children while they live.

    1. Yes, it is so depressing to read these news reports every few weeks. So difficult to believe that the authorities cannot do something about the situation.

      I had not heard this about the politician’s promise of free funerals for all. What a macabre campaign idea!

      Not that our politicians are much better. I do not think any of them care at all about the situation in our orphanages. Why should they- since these children cannot yet vote!

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