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HindustanTimes Thu,23 Oct 2014

(Shelter) home truth: Children in prison-like confinement

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  Lucknow, July 26, 2013
First Published: 12:33 IST(26/7/2013) | Last Updated: 12:37 IST(26/7/2013)

From the curtains of the government shelter homes in the state capital, the flow of information is simply impossible.

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The locks not just restrict visitors but also block free dialogue with the children who live inside.

Mysterious death of a 13-year old deaf and mute girl at the shelter home in Moti Nagar on Sunday has once again raised questions on the condition of the children within the shelter homes, who are not allowed to interact with any outsider.

Every time HT tried to meet the children at the homes, entry was denied by the officials who said they were not allowed to permit anyone to meet the children.

On the contrary, the juvenile justice care and protection act 2007 clearly says that the official incharge of the homes should encourage active participation of the local community.

It states all children homes must be open to visitors with permission of the officer incharge or the child welfare committee (CWC).

It also states that local bodies, researchers, prominent persons, NGOs and media can be allowed to interact with the children under the supervision of the authorities.

“They are children who have been abandoned by their families. Some are even orphans and thus in need of more love, care and affection.

They are not inmates of a jail that they are restricted within four walls and not allowed to communicate with anyone,” said a child right activist.

After sexual exploitation of girls at government shelter home in Allahabad came to light last year, it was recommended that the homes have CCTV cameras and suggestion boxes through which the condition of the children can be monitored.

But, no such provision exists in the homes in Lucknow.

Those who work for child rights in the state capital say there was major problem of staff in the women and child welfare department.

Most of the staff in responsible positions at the shelter homes are hired on contractual basis and thus sincerity is somehow found missing most of the time.

Behaviour of the staff with children is another major concern that needs to be checked, say activists.

“Every time an incident occurs, the authorities get in action mode and begin formulating plans. The department must answer as to when it carried out the training of the staff and monitoring of the homes last,” said an activist.

It may be noted that a girl died at the Moti Nagar shelter home on Sunday.

The post mortem reports of the mysterious death are still awaited. While authorities claim the girl was ill, no evidence is available to prove she was getting medication as per the intensity of her illness.


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