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.”
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.
In the recent case of the Suparaana Ka Angan home “The 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.
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?