The shocking incident of alleged rapes and molestations of multiple girls by a 75-year-old retired professor at a shelter for girls in Shivpuri once again exposed how unsafe such foster homes are in the state.
Several incidents of sexual harassments and crime against women have taken place in the past few years at shelter homes across the state, which topped the child rape and abuse crime chart as per NCRB’s data of 2015.
As per NCRB data released this year, the state recorded 4391 cases of rape in 2015.
In May this year, a man and his brother brutally killed his 17-year-old daughter inside the premises of a shelter home in Old Gwalior.
In January last year, Bhopal woke up to another horrific incident in which private parts of three minor girls were burnt using candles at a government-recognised shelter home to stop them from bed-wetting. The NGO-run home was closed down by shifting inmates to a government-run accommodation. A caretaker of the home was also arrested following the incident.
In February last year, a 19-year-old visually challenged girl was allegedly raped at a shelter home in Satna district. The victim was brought to the shelter home for her safe upbringing by Childline staff after they spotted her begging near a temple in Maihar. She later told police that she was raped by someone at the shelter home.
In July 2013, 11 minor inmates of a shelter home in Bhopal’s Jahangirabad escaped throwing chili powder into the eyes of the security guard. Though six of them were caught immediately, five of them managed to escape.
Earlier this month, a 16-year-old girl died under mysterious circumstances at a shelter home in Bhopal. The girl, a resident of Dewas district, was brought there by Child Welfare Committee, after the death of her parents. She was even raped by her father in Dewas. Her mother died when she was a child and the accused father too died in prison.
Even shelters for grown-up women often get stuck in controversies. In July last year, six women escaped from a government shelter home in Gwalior by breaking a window frame of the bathroom.
On July 12, 18 inmates had left the home and later 11 of them turned up at a local police station to lodge a harassment complaint against a guard of the shelter. The guard, though was suspended, home authorities denied harassment charges.
Vidhanshu Joshi, a child rights activist and a former member of the MP state commission for protection of child rights, said for the first time some provisions were made under the new Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015, which came into force in January this year, to deal with safety of children in child care institutions.
“Raping a minor or molesting her at a shelter home is serious crime and it needs to be dealt sternly. Action needs to be taken against the accused under the provisions of the new Act”, he said.
Joshi said the state government should conduct social audits of all childcare institutes (shelter homes) as per the new Act.