In a shocking revelation of sexual assault, the staffers of a residential therapy centre run by an NGO here have been allegedly raping and thrashing deaf-mute orphan girls for the past one year during their visits for speech therapy sessions. The girls, aged between 12 and 17 years, reside at the Government Girls’ Home in Gandhi Nagar here.

Five girls had recently complained to the Child Welfare Committee through sign language during the counselling sessions that they had been sexually exploited and beaten by the staff members of Awaz Foundation at Kanota near here, where they were regularly sent to stay for education and speech therapy sessions.

Acting on a complaint by CWC chairman Ram Prakash Bairwa, police on Friday night arrested five persons, including the administrator of the residential school, and found in their preliminary investigation that two of the girls had been raped and others were thrashed and mistreated. The shelter home, where the girls are staying, had registered the complaint on April 30 and reported the matter to CWC.

Jaipur Police Commissioner Biju George Joseph said the accused arrested from various locations included school administrator Alpana Daswani, assistant Geeta Vaibhav, warden Ashok Prajapat, clerk Suresh Bairwa and security guard Mahesh Mali. Among them, Ashok and Suresh have been booked on charges of rape and others for conspiring with the main accused and beating the girls.

The Awaz Foundation is run with the support of the State Government’s Social Justice Department. The victims had earlier tried to bring the matter to the notice of the foundation’s authorities to no avail. After their latest visit to the therapy centre, the shelter home’s warden reportedly noticed injury marks on their bodies and informed the CWC with the complaint of physical abuse.

According to the police sources, preliminary investigation has pointed to the possibility of one of the girls being pregnant. The medical report of the victim was awaited for the final conclusion.

The incident sent shock waves in the State capital and activists representing women’s groups and People’s Union for Civil Liberties staged a massive demonstration outside the Girls’ Home on Saturday demanding justice for the deaf-mute girls and foolproof security measures for all inmates.

PUCL general secretary Kavita Srivastava took exception to the CWC “wasting time” in reporting the matter to the police, even though it had come to know of the incident on May 3 and gathered details of the horrific crime from the girls through counselling.

The women’s groups demanded a complete overhaul in the inspection and supervision system for the shelter homes, girls’ homes and orphanages run by the State government and bring transparency to their management. They also demanded immediate cancellation of the Awaz Foundation’s registration and seizure of its bank accounts.

The statutes under which the five accused have been booked are the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012, the Juvenile Justice Act, 2000, and the Indian Penal Code.

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