Caretakers turn predators at Homes

DC | November 15, 2013, 12.09 pm IST

Bengaluru: India is home to every sixth child in the world today. With about 430 million children (0-18 years), the world’s largest population of children, India can write the future of the world, but not if the status of children remains the same, Deccan Chronicle reports.

A 2013 report of the Asian Centre for Human Rights titled ‘India’s hell holes: Sexual assaults in juvenile justice homes’ has compiled 39 cases (and they are only indicative of the trend and representative of a huge number of similar cases) of child rapes in Juvenile Justice Homes from across India, including two from Bengaluru.

This is happening in institutions meant to provide care and protection to juveniles in conflict with the law and enable their re-integration and rehabilitation.

The report blames the huge number of unregistered child care institutions, lack of regular inspections of juvenile homes, inactive Child Welfare Committees and lack of segregation of children based on their age, sex and nature of offence.

According to the National Crime Records Bureau, a total of 48,338 child rape cases were recorded between 2001 and 2011. India saw an increase of 336% in child rape cases from 2001 (2,113 cases) to 2011 (7,112 cases). This, when a majority of child rapes are not reported to the police.

Case 1: Torture and sexual abuse of minors at Church of Christ Home Orphanage in Bengaluru On 28 February 2012, 42 children–23 girls and 19 boys–aged between six and 17 years, were rescued by a team of the State Child Rights Commission, Child Welfare Committee, Childline Bangalore and police, from the Church of Christ Home, an orphanage in Challaghatta, following complaints of physical and sexual abuse.

The manager of the orphanage, Charles, and another person, John Williams, were arrested. The team found marks of torture on the children who were in a traumatised condition.

The home was registered as a society but not registered either with the Child Welfare Committee or the Department of Women and Child Development as an orphanage.

The team also found canes that were used for beating the children. The victims alleged that they were often sexually abused by Charles. One minor girl allegedly died in the home.
Case 2: Sexual harassment by CWC member during counselling in Bengaluru. 

On 8 September 2010, the State Government issued an order restraining Balakrishna Masali, a member of the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) II of the Bangalore Urban district, from attending sittings of the Child Welfare Committee, after he was found guilty of molesting girls, by the Karnataka State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (KSCPCR).

In its report the KSCPCR stated that Masali took advantage of his position and sexually molested minor girls in the privacy of the cubicle while counselling. It recommended his suspension and an inquiry under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000 and relevant sections of Indian Penal Code.

The KSCPCR’s inquiry was specifically about a complaint by the Association for Promotion of Social Action, an NGO. The complaint accused Masali of molesting a 14-year-old girl during a 30-minute counselling session.

The KSCPCR recorded the statements of four girls, including the complainant, who were lodged in the government-run girl’s home, and also the statements of the care-takers of the home. All the four girls alleged sexual harassment by Masali.