Nitish govt plans to start running all shelter homes in the state.
Patna: The alleged sexual abuse of 34 minor girls at Muzaffarpur shelter home is not an isolated case of atrocities committed on inmates of facilities run by Bihar government’s social welfare department.
A survey carried out by Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), which uncovered the Muzaffarpur horror, also exposed the vulnerability of residents of other short-stay and shelter homes for children.
The state government runs around 11o shelter homes with the help of NGOs and the TISS report pointed to sexual exploitation of inmates in at least 15 such institutions.
The report, which is available with this newspaper, says, “While abuse varying in forms and degrees on intensity was reported to be prevalent in almost all institutions there are certain institutions which stood out in a manner that was appalling.”
The report further states that “almost all institutions found to be running in violation of the respective schemes and the essence of the juvenile justice act.”
The TISS in its report listed names of shelter homes in an attempt to “draw attention to the moral degradation humanity has suffered” and called for stringent action against those who have been involved in such activities.
Besides Muzaffarpur shelter home where 34 minor girls were allegedly raped by officials and employees of the facility, the TISS in its report revealed serious physical violence and sexual abuse at a boy’s home in Motihari which is run by NGO Nirdesh.
“One of the staff members was reported to be involved in severe physical violence. Another pattern of abuse we encountered in this home involved the staff beating all children when a child or a group of children made mistakes. Boys reported sexual abuse and violence,” TISS report said.
A similar incident was reported from children home for boys in Bhagalpur run by an NGO Rupam Pragati Samaj Samiti.
Violence and physical abuse were also reported from a Patna-based shelter home run by NGO called Ikard. According to TISS report, girls who lost their way but had phone numbers of their houses were not allowed to speak with their parents. A girl had committed suicide a year ago after she couldn’t bear the violent atmosphere at the shelter home. Another young girl who had the phone number of her parents and repeatedly requested the staff to get her on the telephone reportedly lost her mental balance from the trauma she suffered there.
The TISS had submitted the audit report to the social welfare department in March but the action in the Muzaffarpur case began in June when the police arrested 10 persons including Brajesh Thakur, administrator of the NGO Seva Sankalp Evam Vikas Samiti which was running the shelter home.
Sources claim that social welfare department sat on the report for more than a month and the first FIR was registered on May 31.
It was only after the matter was raised by the Opposition parties that chief minister Nitish Kumar directed his officials to hand over the Muzaffarpur sexual assault case to CBI.
The Supreme Court on Tuesday had slammed the state government over allotment of funds to NGOs running shelter homes in the state. The court has also asked the Nitish Kumar government to explain about the action against 15 institutions which the TISS mentioned in its audit report.