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Report to UN calls Indian juvenile homes “hell holes”

Child abuse report India

Report on child rape says sexual offences against children in India have reached an epidemic proportion with 336% increase in past decade

By Team FI

India saw an alarming increase of 336% in child rape cases from 2001 to 2011 – from 2,113 recorded cases in 2001, to a startling figure of 7,112 cases in 2011, says Asian Center for Human Rights in its report titled India’s Hell Holes: Child Sexual Assault in Juvenile Justice Homes.

Though a total of 48,338 cases were recorded in the said time period, the report warns that these are only the tip of the iceberg as the majority of child rape cases are not reported and that children regularly become victims of other forms of sexual assault too. The report pinpointed the juvenile justice homes run and aided by the Government of India as “hell holes where inmates are subjected to sexual assault and exploitation, torture and ill treatment apart from being forced to live in inhuman conditions. The girls remain the most vulnerable,” stated Mr Suhas Chakma, Director of Asian Centre for Human Rights.

Juvenile justice homes were established under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act (JJ(C&PC) Act), 2000. By the end of financial year 2011-2012, about 733 juvenile justice homes were fully supported by the Government of India under the Integrated Child Protection Scheme (ICPS) of the Ministry of Women and Child Development.

The 56-page report highlights 39 emblematic cases of systematic and often repeated sexual assault on children in these homes. Out of the 39 cases, 11 cases were reported from government-run juvenile justice homes such as observation homes, children homes, shelter homes and orphanages, while in one case a CWC member was accused of sexual harassment during counseling sessions. The remaining 27 cases were reported from privately/NGO run juvenile justice homes such as shelter homes, orphanages, children homes, destitute homes, etc. Majority of privately/NGO run homes are not registered under Section 34(3) of the JJ(C&PC) Act (as amended in 2006).

“In most cases, sexual assault in the juvenile justice homes continues for a long period as the victims are not able to protest and suffer silently in the absence of any inspection by the authorities under the JJ(C&PC) Act,” informed Mr Chakma. In the case of government-run juvenile justice homes, the perpetrators were staffs including the caretakers, security guards, cooks and other Class IV employees, and the senior inmates. In two cases, the sexual abuses were committed by the senior inmates in collusion with the staff.

With respect to the privately/NGO-run juvenile justice homes, the perpetrators include managers/ directors / owners/founders and their relatives and friends, staff members such as caretakers, wardens, cooks, drivers, security guards, gatekeepers, senior inmates and outsiders including security forces.

Out of the 27 cases in privately/NGO-run homes, inmates were responsible for the offences in five cases and out of these, in one case, the offence was committed in collusion with the staff.
No Inspection

The Asian Centre for Human Rights holds the Government of India i.e. the Ministry of Women and Child Development and the State Governments responsible, pointing out the absence of preventive mechanisms or regular inspections as one of the four major reasons for the continuing deplorable situation. The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, State Commissions for Protection of Child Rights and the Child Welfare Committees intervene only after crimes are reported.

Most State governments do not have Inspection Committees which are mandated to inspect the juvenile justice homes and report at least once in every three months. The Ministry of Women and Child Development which approves projects for all the States and Union Territories under ICPS since 2010, has never raised the issue of Inspection Committees with the Governments of Delhi, Chhattisgarh, Puducherry, Bihar, Jharkhand, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh, Meghalaya and Nagaland despite having yearly meetings for the last three years.

In fact, no separate budgetary allocation has been made under ICPS for the functioning of the Inspection Committees. The report alleges that there is a conscious effort on the part of the Ministry to avoid the issue of the Inspection Committees.

There are 462 District Child Welfare Committees (CWCs) in 23 States mandated to verify fit institutions, majority of them exist only on paper. The State Government of Karnataka in October 2010 put the conditions that “members of the CWCs cannot visit child care institutions, when they are not holding a sitting, without prior permission of the heads of these institutions”, thereby prohibiting random and surprise inspections.

Unregistered Homes
There are hundreds of unregistered child care homes across the country despite the requirement to register the same within six months under JJ(C& PC) Act, 2006. In many cases funds are given by the State Governments even if institutions are not registered.

The Ministry of Women and Child Development had raised the issue of non-registration of children’s home with Jharkhand in 2013, and with Odisha, Arunachal Pradesh, Haryana, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Mizoram, Karnataka and Kerala in 2012, among others, but unregistered children’s homes exists across the country.

There is no punitive provision per se for non-registration of the institutions but Section 23 of the JJ(C&PC) Act allows the authorities to take action against willful neglect, mental or physical suffering of children but little action is taken. Inspection is seldom carried out in these unregistered homes and children remain extremely vulnerable to sexual abuse in these homes.

Lack of segregation on the basis of gender
Though Rule 40 of the JJ(C&PC) Rules, 2007, provides for separate facilities between for boys and girls as well as according to age i.e. for boys and girls up to 12 years, 13-15 years and 16 years and above, this provision has not been complied with. “While authorities of the juvenile justice homes are the main predators, the absence of separate facilities facilitates sexual assaults on the minor inmates by the senior inmates,” stated Mr. Chakma.

According to the report, the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (POCSO) will not address the menace of child sexual abuse unless the Government of India creates a Special Fund under the Integrated Child Protection Scheme to provide financial assistance for prosecution of the offenders under the POCSO.

Asian Centre for Human Rights also, among others, has recommended immediate establishment of the Inspection Committees in all the districts with mandatory inspection of the juvenile justice homes every three months; stopping funds to any home unless inspection reports are submitted; separate budgetary allocations for the functioning of the Inspection Committees, ban on posting of male staff in girls’ homes, separation of residential facilities based on the nature of offences, gender and age, completion of inspection of all unregistered homes within six months and registration of cases against the authorities of the unregistered juvenile justice homes.

The report has been submitted in advance to the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, Ms Rashida Manjoo who is conducting an official visit to India from 22 April to 1 May 2013. ACHR is scheduled to meet the Rapporteur on 23 April 2013.

State wise statistics of child rape (2001-2011)

Madhya Pradesh recorded the highest number of child rape cases with 9,465 cases
Maharashtra – 6,868 cases
Uttar Pradesh 5,949 cases
Andhra Pradesh 3,977 cases
Chhattisgarh 3,688 cases
Delhi 2,909 cases
Rajasthan 2,776 cases
Kerala 2,101 cases
Tamil Nadu 1,486 cases
Haryana 1,081 cases
Punjab 1,068 cases
Gujarat 999 cases
West Bengal 744 cases
Odisha 736 cases
Karnataka 719 cases
Himachal Pradesh 571 cases
Bihar 519 cases
Tripura 457 cases
Meghalaya 452 cases
Assam 316 cases
Jharkhand 218 cases
Mizoram 217 cases
Goa 194 cases
Uttarakhand 152 cases
Chandigarh 135 cases
Sikkim 113 cases
Manipur 98 cases
Arunachal Pradesh 93 cases
Jammu and Kashmir 69 cases
Andanam and Nicobar Island 65 cases
Puducherry 41 cases
Nagaland 38 cases
Dadra and Nagar Haveli 15 cases
Daman and Diu 9 cases.