Child shelter homes, where a child is taken after being rescued from exposure to a spectrum of abuse, provide no guarantee that the kid has been saved from exploitation for good, it has emerged.
A response to an RTI plea has revealed that as many as 1800 children went missing from various child shelter homes, run by both the government and private players, in a span of four years. The data concerns 26 such homes.
"Once out of the shelter, the kids are exposed to the same abuse from which he/she had been rescued. Such children take up menial jobs at local shops or start working as helps," said Rakesh Sengar, of Bachpan Bachao Andolan.
"The statistics for the period between 2006-2010 for 26 such shelters shows that total average children residing per year in these homes was 2650. The total number of children who lived there between the same period was 10,600. A total of 1807 children went missing, which is about one-fifth of the total number of children residing in these children homes," said Sengar, whose organisation had filed the RTI.
"There is an urgent need for regularising and registering such institutions under relevant statutory provisions so that they could be made accountable as well as efficient. Some of these homes are even involved in adoption rackets," said Ravi Kant president of Shakti Vahini, an NGO working for child welfare.
Most of the children went missing from Prayas a non-statutory institution in northwest Delhi's Jehangirpuri. A total of 807 children are missing from this institution.
As many as 169 kids are missing from such a home for boys at Alipur, the highest for a government institution checked for such instances.
"It raises a serious question mark against the credibility of these institutions," said Sengar.
The Delhi Police, which have recovered 57 children so far, said tracing such children is a difficult task.
"Most of these children left house on their own and thus tracing them becomes difficult. We usually register a missing person's complaint and alert police stations across the city," said a senior police officer.