Shelter homes have recently come under fire for becoming a breeding ground of consistent sexual abuse in states like Bihar. Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) recently conducted a social audit report which revealed that 15 shelter homes in Bihar have allegedly indulged in sexual, mental and physical abuse. These shelter homes also include the Muzaffarpur one where reports of 34 women victims of rape came to light, leading to the arrest of kingpin Brajesh Thakur.

The 100-page TISS report, which audited 110 shelter homes and short stay homes across 35 districts in the state, revealed that underage girls in these shelters were reportedly pregnant “and some even had babies”. In a section titled “Grave Concerns — Institutions Requiring Immediate Attention, the report shows that sexual and physical abuse was regular in 15 centres, including the one run by Thakur.

“The institution was exclusive in carrying out sexual violence on girls, all of tender age and from marginalised backgrounds, in the name of punishment and discipline. The girls said that the male staff molested them regularly,” the report said about the shelter home run by Thakur under the name of his NGO, Seva Sankalp Evam Vikas Samiti.

Short stay homes run in Patna by AIKARD, Motihari (Sakhi), Kaimur (Gram Swaraj Sewa Sansthan), Madhepura (Mahila Chetna Vikas Mandal) and Munger (Novelty Welfare Society) are some of the centres of sexual abuse that come under the 15 accused institutions. Some government-run institutions also come under the list like Observation Home in Araria, Sewa Kutir run by Om Sai Foundation in Muzaffarpur, Kaushal Kutir run by Don Bosco Tech Society in Patna and Sewa Kutir run by Metta Buddha Trust in Gaya.

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There are some boys’ home also on the list — Motihari run by Nirdesh, in Bhagalpur by Rupam Pragati Samaj Samiti, in Munger by Panaah and in Gaya run by DORD.

Patna’s Nari Gunjan, Madhubani’s RVESK and Kaimur’s Gyan Bharti are the three adoption agency which are also part of the “grave concerns” category.

“The institution was exclusive in carrying out sexual violence on girls, all of tender age and from marginalised backgrounds, in the name of punishment and discipline. The girls said that the male staff molested them regularly,”

Talking about the condition at boys’ homes, the report says, “After dinner, the shelter homes locked up boys inside their wards, giving no access to toilets throughout the night. We found plastic bottles with urine in them.”

Inmates of Muzaffarpur Sewa Kutir run by Om Sai Foundation showed bruises to TISS members and told them that they were regularly beaten by the caretakers.

The report also revealed that police actually picked up the girls living in the short stay homes from eating joints “while they were out with their male friends, and sent to these homes for protection”.

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