NEW DELHI: As the cases of abuse at shelter homes in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh hog the headlines, it has emerged that no national audit of around 10,000 shelter homes in the country, meant for distressed children and women, has ever been done. In fact, about 33 per cent of such facilities in the country are not even registered.
It was only last year that the Centre, for the first time, got prepared a database of around 9,500 child care institutions and 477 homes for destitute women.
Alarmed at the cases of mass sexual exploitation of girl inmates at shelter homes in the two states, the Union Women and Child Development Ministry has now asked the state governments to hire credible agencies and get social audits of all shelter homes done with the help of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights and the National Commission for Women.
"The states have been asked to submit detailed reports of the audits within two months," a senior official in the ministry said.
Sources said that in 2016, after the rules under the Justice Juvenile Act, 2015, were notified, it became mandatory for child care institutions to get registered. Childline India Foundation, an NGO that runs a national level helpline for children, was tasked with carrying out a survey of all such homes in the country.
The survey, whose details were submitted in 2017, said that at present, there are 3,071 homes registered under the JJ Act; 1,487 homes have applied for registration; 1,585 homes are registered under other laws and 33 per cent are unregistered.
The survey also found that 8,741 of the total shelter homes for children are run by NGOs and are supported by the government.
"Prior to the survey, the ministry had a database of only 2,317 homes. In the survey, a performa was given on questions like whether the home is registered, names and details of owners and how many inmates it has. It turned out that a large number of these facilities are not registered anywhere," a source said.
Another official dealing with the Swadhar Greh scheme through which shelter homes are funded said the funds are allocated based on demands by the state governments.
"While there are rules in place for inspection by district welfare and child welfare committees, in reality, shelter homes are seldom checked, which makes it easy for those running them to carry out the kind of illegalities that have come out in the open now," the official conceded.
Shelter homes for children
Registered under JJ Act, 2015- 3,087
In the process of registration-1,487
Registered under other laws-1585
Total children in shelter homes-3.68 lakh (boys-1.98 lakh, girls-1.70 lakh, transgender-92)
Children in conflict with law-9,382
Homes run by NGOs---8,744
Homes for women (often accompanied by minor children)
Maximum numbers of shelter homes are in Maharashtra, Odisha and Uttar Pradesh