It has been three months since an 11-year-old lost her life after being allegedly raped repeatedly by an inmate of central Delhi’s Arya Orphanage. Today, her mother is not just battling poverty, but is still trying to come to terms with the loss of her daughter.
And Pooja, the mother, is not taking any chances. She has promptly withdrawn her second daughter from the orphanage. And Pooja is just one of the many affected family members.
Taking the case into cognisance, representatives of 26 NGOs along with affected families and ex-staff members of the Arya Orphanage Vidyalaya gathered at Jantar Mantar on Monday. Their demand: Increased child protection mechanisms in institutional care facilities.
“We want to mobilise the public, government and management of the orphanage into taking some action. The best way to spread the word is through the voice of civil society. People need to know how the children were abused in the orphanage and how this
still happens at several places,” said Bharti Sharma, former chairperson, Child Welfare Committee (CWC).
These organisations are demanding a mechanism to check the lax administrative response to such cases, along with a mandatory child protection policy at the registration level of institutional care facilities.
“This case should be a wake-up call for the government. We are going to submit a memorandum, which will press for a CBI enquiry into the matter, with immediate criminal prosecution whenever such an incident comes to light,” added Sharma.
The memorandum will also seek an immediate dissolution of the management of the orphanage, demand a criminal liability on it as well as the removal of the accused staff members.
It is also looking at pressing for an alternative management committee in consultation with civil society organisations for the appropriate functioning of the orphanage.
However, Viresh Pratap Chaudhry, president of the managing committee of Arya Orphanage, claimed that the demonstration held against the orphanage — led by HAQ: Centre for Child Rights — was uncalled for. He also termed the protest a deliberate attempt at destabilising the development work these institutions have undertaken.