The seven-member team of Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), which had exposed sexual and physical exploitation of minor girls at Muzaffarpur shelter home in its social audit report submitted to the State Social Welfare Department on March 15 this year, has also pointed out similar horror stories at other 14 shelter and short-stay homes in the State. TISS team had made social audit of 110 shelter and short-stay homes from nine divisions and 35 districts of Bihar.
The 100-page social audit report under the caption “grave concerns — institutions requiring immediate attention” has made explicit details of how girls, boys and adults have been subjected to “dreadful details of physical violence, sexual abuse and mental harassment” at 14 other shelter and short stay homes. “We found plastic bottles with urine in it and upon enquiry, learnt that boys were forced to urinate in bottles once the ward was locked for the night…this pattern was observed across Homes”, said the report at one place. The Hindu is in possesssion of the TISS report.
Severe physical violence, sexual abuse rife
At Boys Children Home in Motihari run by NGO “Nirdesh”, one of the staff members was reported to be involved in severe physical violence wherein he hit the children with a “thick pipe”. Similarly, at Boy’s children home in Munger run by NGO “Panaah” the children were found living in a “barrack like infrastructure”. “The boys reported being forced to work for the superintendent whose residential quarter was in the same premises…they were made to cook and clean for him and one of the older boys, suffering from hearing and speech impairment who was supposedly a good cook, showed us a three inch long scar across his chest as he was hit by the superintendent when he refused to cook for him”, said the report. At Boy’s children home in Gaya run by the NGO “DORD”, the boys apprised the TISS team how some of the female staff members were forcing them to write “lewd messages on paper and passing them to another female staff member who had joined recently”.
At the Government run Observation Home in Araria district, a boy showed the TISS members “a mark that went across his entire chest and looked like a compression of muscle tissues in the area and swelling around it”. He blamed a Bihar police security guard for hitting him with a metal rod. “ Is jagah ka naam sudhar grih se badal kar bigaad grih kar dena chahiye (this place should be called destruction home instead of correction home), said the boys to the social audit team of TISS. The report further said that a short-stay home in Patna run by “IKARD” was being managed in a “severely custodial and violent manner that unable to cope with the violent atmosphere one girl had committed suicide about a year ago while another had lost her mental balance from the trauma she suffered there”. The girls reported that they got no clothes, medicines, toiletries etc.
In the short-stay home in Motihari run by the NGO “Sakhi”, the girls were found suffering from “mental illness”. The Home looked more like a Hindu temple rather than a short-stay home with images of God and Goddesses everywhere, said the report. “A Muslim girl informed us that the counselor had beaten her up for practice her faith and had torn her Quran into pieces. She was frequently beaten and ridiculed for praying according to her faith”, said the social audit report. No sanitary pads were provided to them, it said further. At the short-stay home in Kaimur district run by “Gram Swaraj Sewa Sansthan”, the guard was reported to be “sexually abusive”. “The women / girls reported that he often passed lewd comments and attempted to touch their private parts,” said the report.
‘Forced to drink from the toilets’
Similar disturbing instances and patterns of physical violence and sexual abuse were also revealed by the residents of Sewa Kutir at Muzaffarpur run by the NGO “Om Sai Foundation”. “People had bruises and broken bones..they reported being sexually assaulted by the caretakers and receiving severe beatings if they protested”, said the report. “There were no ceiling fans or lights in the rooms…and the residents had no access to drinking water…they were forced to drink from the toilets”, the report said further. Similarly, the residents of Sewa Kutir at Gaya district run by "Metta Budddha Trust”, the residents said they were “routinely beaten up with rods and sticks”. “The home was found running in a highly abusive and controlling manner…there were a large number of people with mental illness”, said the TISS report. At the Kaushal Kutir in Patna run by “Don Bosco Tech Society”, physical violence and verbal abuse against both men and women were reported…the superintendent was reported to make lewd remarks against residents”, the report said.
Speaking to The Hindu over phone the TISS team leader Mohd Tarique said that “the findings have clearly brought out administrative and procedural gaps affecting the functioning of the institutions…the overall functioning of these institutions found to be far from satisfactory”. However, Raj Kumar, director of the social welfare department told The Hindu , “we’re taking strong measures to fill these gaps at all homes…for the department every shelter home is important”.