NEW DELHI: Of the total complaints of sexual abuse and torture of children in shelter homes reported to India’s top child rights’ body, the maximum — over a third — are from Uttar Pradesh.
In the last three years, 43 cases of child abuse at shelter homes were reported to the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), the highest 26 in 2018-19.
This was revealed by Union Women and Child Development Ministry in response to a question by BJP’s Amar Shankar Sable in the Rajya Sabha.
Officials in the NCPCR said following complaints on the exploitation of children in shelter homes, detailed enquiries are conducted by central and state authorities and a thorough police investigation is ensured.
“The complaints also come as tip-offs by anonymous persons and sadly, in most cases, those turn out to be true,” NCPCR chairman Priyank Kanoongo told this newspaper.
Activists feel the number could just be a tip of the iceberg.
“I suspect that abuse is more rampant in shelter homes than what these numbers tell,” said Bhima Raichand, a child rights activist in Bhopal.
“As there is no proper evaluation or monitoring of shelter homes, most cases do not even come out as helpless children have no way of sharing their ordeal.”
A report, following a review of shelter homes by a team of WCD ministry officials last year, had highlighted that a large number of children in shelter homes are often left unsupervised at night and subjected to corporal punishments in order to get “disciplined”.
The report also said that children in these institutions are often given sub-standard food, not provided adequate medical or legal aid and are left to languish for years without proper education or skill training.
No social audit of child care institutions
Following a mapping done in 2016-17, the government for the first time came to know there are 7,909 registered shelter homes.
But a country-wide social audit for such homes is still to be completed.