NHRC issued notice to the Government of Bihar over reported sexual exploitation of girls at a Shelter Home in Muzaffarpur (26.07.2018)

PRESS RELEASE

New Delhi, 26th July, 2018
The National Human Rights Commission, NHRC has taken suo motu cognizance of a media report that in a State funded Shelter Home at Muzaffarpur in Bihar, at least 16 girls were raped. There were 44 girls living in the home run by an NGO under the supervision of the Social Welfare Department. Reportedly, the Child Protection Officer of Muzaffarpur District has been arrested in connection with alleged sexual exploitation of girls in this Shelter Home. The Commission has issued notices to the Chief Secretary and the DGP, Government of Bihar, directing them to enquire into the matter and submit a report within two weeks.

The Commission has observed that the contents of the media reports, if true, raise a serious issue of violation of human rights of the victim girls. The Shelter Home is supposed to give security and protection to the victim girls but under no stretch of imagination the Shelter Home can be a playing ground of predators for their monstrous and vulturous activities, which are against the human dignity and sobriety of the women. However, in the instant case, the girls have apparently become victim of rape at the instance of the protectors in the Shelter Home, as the Government officials and the Shelter Home staff have been allegedly found to be involved in the incident. The State and the local administration have failed miserably to protect the rights and dignity of the victim girls.
Accordingly, the State authorities have also been asked that their report should also contain the reply to the following specific points:
1. Whether any approval was given by the Social Welfare Department to run the Shelter Home in question and what is the mechanism to monitor its functioning. If any monitoring mechanism is at place, why such incident took place;

2. Whether any of the victims belong to Scheduled Caste/ Scheduled Tribe. If yes, whether the police has registered FIR under relevant sections of SC/ST Act and whether steps have been taken to pay monetary relief to such victims under SC/ST (POA) Rules;

3. Whether any Govt. official, as reported in the media, has been found to have involved in the incident. If yes, the details thereof be sent.

They are also expected to ensure that immediate legal action is taken against the accused persons and necessary arrangements/steps be taken for relief and rehabilitation of the victim girls.
According to the media report, carried on the 24th July, 2018, the girls have been shifted to other shelter home after the incident came to light. The medical report of 21 of the girls have been submitted to the Muzaffarpur police which confirms 16 cases of rape. The report further states that one of the inmates stated that one girl was killed when she retaliated to the sexual harassment by the staff and she was buried in the premises.
Reportedly, the sample of debris is to be sent for forensic test. 10 out of 11 accused have been arrested. In the social audit report prepared by TISS(Tata Institute of Social Sciences), the inmates had narrated their ordeals. The Social Welfare Department has filed the police complaint which has exposed the plight of the girls. A special investigation team has been formed to enquire into the matter.
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