sexual harrasement at Chamba child protection home

Girls in a Chamba Balika Ashram allege 3 staff members of sexual harassment

Chamba: Six girls of a Balika Ashram (child protection home for girls) situation in Chilli of Tissa region in Chamba district has alleged three staff members of molesting and sexually harassing them. Three persons, the cook, clerk/accountant, and sweeper were arrested on Tuesday by the police immediately after receiving the complaint.

The reports have again raised huge question over the government’s measures to ensure the safety of children, especially girls in child protection homes. This particular child protection home has reported a case of rape by a staff member earlier too.

The said employees have been booked under Section 354A of IPC and Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, confirmed Superintendent of Police Virender Tomar.

The girls were shifted to a child shelter in the district headquarters of Chamba and a medical was to be conducted on Wednesday.

As per reports, the Chamba unit of the Child Welfare Committee was on a visit to a legal awareness camp when a girl came ahead and reported sexual harassment by the said staff members. During the counseling, the girl admitted being sexually exploited by the said staff members.

The matter was brought to the attention of the Deputy Commissioner of Chamba, Sudesh Mokhta, who initiated the police action. 

As per the police, initially only one girl had alleged sexual harassment, but later five more girls came ahead during the investigation.

The employees have been suspended, and, if substantial evidences are found, they will be terminated, said the DC.

 Amidst this report, demand for medical examination of every girl has arisen. Only six girls have come ahead, there could more victims who might have remained silent. About 32 girls are living at this home

At the same time, the case highlights the importance of awareness and counseling services at such child protection homes to prevent such cases of sexual harassment. 

Majority of the staff members at this shelter (girls) are males. Considering the fear of such cases, the government should prefer posting female staff at all Balika Ashrams.

Safety of children in these homes was also discussed earlier, at a meeting of the Himachal Pradesh Child Welfare Council held on September 13 at Raj Bhawan.

Some major issues related to all Ashrams and Homes included installation of CCTV cameras, the appointment of a Psychiatrist at the local committee, and special facilities of counseling to the children living in them.

 

Pic: Amar Ujala

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