1,575 Kids Abused At Shelters Run By NGOS

Supreme Court Tells government to frame policy to protect children.

NEW DELHI – Shocked to know about sexual abuse of 1,575 children revealed in an all-India survey of shelter homes, mostly run by NGOs, the Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the Centre to frame a child protection policy to prevent recurrence of such horrific incidents.

“As many as 1,575 boys and girls are victims of sexual and physical abuse. What have you done about it? Which are the shelter homes where they are kept? What action the states have taken on this,” a three-judge Bench headed by Justice Madan B Lokur asked Additional Solicitor General Pinky Anand.

“We can’t shut our eyes to what is coming out in newspapers,” said the Bench which had on August 7 lamented that women and girls were getting raped “left, right and centre” in the country.

According to the survey of shelter homes conducted across India, 1,289 girls and 286 boys were sexually abused and 189 children were victims of pornography, amicus curiae Aparna Bhat told the Bench after perusing the report that was submitted to the court. Bhat said 94% of these homes were run by NGOs.

Additional Solicitor General Pinky Anand said the Centre sent the report to states and informed them about it last year itself.

“It means nothing happened for one year and the children continued to be sexually abused…We are concerned whether children living in shelter homes are being abused or looked after properly,” the SC said.

The direction to frame a child protection policy came after Bhat told the Bench that in Muzaffarpur even a Child Welfare Committee Member and the District Child Protection Officer was accused of raping minor girls. Bhat said a social audit by an outside agency was important as it exposed the shortcomings in the statutory mechanism.

It also directed the Bihar Government to make public the social audit report of 111 shelter homes in the state prepared by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) after senior advocate Ranjit Kumar, representing the Nitish Kumar government said it had no objection to it.

The Bench, which also included Justice S Abdul Nazeer and Justice Deepak Gupta, asked the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights to take into account a note submitted by TISS on how to conduct social audits while conducting such exercises.

Kumar told the Bench that three organisations, including Bangalore-based Parivartan and All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) Delhi, were already looking into the psycho-social aspect of the girls allegedly raped at a shelter home run by an NGO in Muzaffarpur.

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