By Aamir Khan and Meghna Yelluru: Males who face sexual abuse in shelter homes across the state are not included in the state government’s Manodhairya scheme for providing financial assistance to victims of sexual abuse, according to a report submitted to the Bombay High Court Monday.
The court was hearing a bunch of PILs on the sexual abuse in shelter homes and funding, education and other aspects of such homes.
The report was submitted by Dr Asha Bajpai from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences and four other members of a committee appointed by the court to look into various issues concerning shelter homes for special children.
“The scheme does not include boys who could be sexually abused,” the report stated and urged that the boys who were abused in a Thane shelter home should also be included in the scheme.
Additional government pleader Abhinandan Vagyani told a bench of Justices V M Kanade and G S Kulkarni that the victims of the sexual abuse in shelter homes would be awarded a special compensation of Rs 1.5 lakh each.
Bajpai, however, said that since such victims were not covered by any other scheme for education, health and financial benefits, the amount was not sufficient.
Another report submitted to the court last week had stated that just three teachers taught 260 children at the government-run Mentally Deficient Chidlren’s (MDC) Home at Mankhurd. “There is no provision for training to the attendants and the other staff for the sensitization towards the intellectually disabled children which has, on several accounts, resulted in abuse of children,” the report said.
Bajpai also informed the court that Mazagaon Dock Limited had stopped funding the “Chunauti” project by TISS that was started as a model programme at the home in Mankhurd. It caters to 93 children, including minors, from Mankhurd, Thane and Panvel homes. The programme looked into the care, protection and rehabilitation of mentally challenged children, besides training the staff of such homes. Bajpai told the court that project was currently being funded by TISS. The court has now asked for the continuation of the Chunnauti project for a year.
The court also said a committee should be set up to look into the mental health of children at shelter homes across the state and their educational and financial aspects. While asking the state to consider the committee’s recommendations, the court asked Bajpai to personally suggest names, on the next date of hearing, for the appointment of members in the new committee. The state has been directed to file an affidavit listing steps taken for the compliance of its earlier directions and the recommendations after four weeks.
Bajpai also told the court that nearly 50 per cent of inmates of shelter homes in the state were over 18 years of age and suggested that a special scheme be floated for them.
Bajpai and advocate Gayatri Singh told the court that the office-bearers of the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) lacked sensitivity while dealing with cases of abuse of special children in shelter homes.
Vagyani also told the court that the state government had received around 4,000 applications for appointments in shelter homes across the state and the same are under scrutiny.
Expressing displeasure, Justice Kanade said, “They (CWC) take decisions on ad-hoc basis in such cases.” While pointing out that the degree of retardation varies from child to child, Justice Kanade suggested to the state government that such children should get vocational training.”
‘Govt must ensure special schools follow norms’
A committee appointed by the Bombay High Court to examine allegations of denying education to special children suggested Monday that the Social Justice department must ensure the standards laid down for special schools were followed in all such schools across the state.
A division bench of Justices V M Kanade and G S Kulkarni was hearing a public interest litigation alleging that children were dismissed by a school run by Panvel-based Bhartiya Manav Vikas Trust on the ground that they were mentally unsound.
The committee has suggested that qualified teachers be appointed in the school and all the norms of the special school followed.
Source: The Indian Express