Rajitha at 8: Orphaned, sold, battered in Andhra





She was forced to leave the only somewhat safe place she knew – an orphanage in Andhra Pradesh's Mahbubnagar district. The administrator of the orphanage told NDTV he couldn't afford to have her there anymore.  Evidence suggests he sold her.


Eight-year-old Rajitha was passed from one adult to another till she ended up with several broken bones in a government hospital. A family that employed her as domestic help, she says, battered her. "Please come and take me away. They don't take care of me. They beat me," she pleads.(Your comments on Rajitha's story)


Now it turns out that the orphanage that Rajitha was evicted from was not licensed.  A sign of how careless officials and the government are about young children: Nobody knows when it closed down. Or why it continued to receive government funding.

The man who ran it allegedly moved some of the orphans to his own home. "I am not getting any funds. They said they would take care of her, so I gave her away," says Premnath who states his official designation is Residential Bridge Course centre in-charge. He has been charged with several criminal offences including selling Rajitha and possibly a few other orphans from the home he once administered.

The Andhra Pradesh government admits that Rajitha's case proves the need to better regulate orphanages and welfare homes for children.  That's an understatement. There is no agency to monitor orphanages, or to check on their registration and licenses, or even to follow children if they're moved from one welfare home to another.

Anybody can pick up a child, keep a child illegally in a home, or at their house. We would not have any way to know they can't be kept there or don't belong there. The Juvenile Justice Act says all homes or organizations that have children should be registered. But that is not being implemented in Andhra," worries Isidore Philips, a child rights' activist.

In Andhra Pradesh, orphans are truly children of a lesser God.  


The government is also preparing a case against Rajitha's employers. In addition to physical abuse, they will be accused of violating child labour laws which ban the employment of children younger than 14 as domestic help.

Rajitha is too overwhelmed to explain how she found her way to the government hospital where she's being treated for several broken bones.

The Women and Child Welfare Ministry says it's monitoring Rajitha now. Her physical injuries will be treated, the giant emotional crater created in her young psyche by every adult she's known will be the real challenge for those now offering to rescue her.

Story First Published: May 04, 2010 22:43 IST