Deoria shelter home victims weren’t rehabilitated in ‘gender-appropriate’ & ‘secure’ facility: NCPCR report

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has found major insufficiency and insensitivity in the rehabilitation of the traumatised victims of the Deoria shelter home. NCPCR had sent a four-member team to Uttar Pradesh’s Deoria in August after 26 girls were rescued from an illegally run shelter home where they were allegedly subjected to physical and sexual abuse.

The inmates weren’t provided a “gender-appropriate” and “secure” facility to move to, said the report, which was submitted to the Union ministry of women and child development recently.

The NCPCR sent the four-member team on August 9, three days after the rescue. The shelter home’s (Maa Vindhyavasini Mahila and Balika Sanrakshan Grih) activities came to the light after a 10-year-old girl escaped from there and complained to the police of having been subjected to physical and sexual abuse.

After the rescue, the victims were housed in a children’s home for boys, called Rajkiya Bal Grih, in Deoria, and were forced to share the facility for a week, says the report. They were later shifted to separate government-run homes in Varanasi, Ballia and Allahabad, reports HT.

“Against the gravity of the gruesome incident, the sexually abused girls were restored to a children home for boys. Thus failing to provide a secure, safe and comfortable space for (the) girls to recover from the trauma,” (sic) said the report, a copy of which has been seen by HT.

The infrastructure at the shelter home where the girls were taken to lacked any recreational facilities and didn’t have adequate staff or a library, counselling room, store room and learning material. Nor did the premises maintain proper standards of hygiene and sanitation, the NCPCR report observed further.

The team led by RG Anand, also found that hardly any measures were taken to address the severe trauma suffered by the girls, highlighting how the state government lacked any plan to rehabilitate the victims.

“No appointment of a qualified counsellor or a mental health expert was ensured within the premises of shelter home, clinical assessment of the victims was not conducted and no effective post-traumatic therapy or counselling was ensured to the victims,” according to the report submitted to the women and child development ministry.

The victims, the report observed, did not have even a single session with a trained counsellor.

Rakesh Srivastava, secretary of the women and child development ministry, said the ministry was writing to the district administration, seeking an explanation for the inadequate rehabilitation measures provided to the victims.

Psychologists say that in cases such as the one in Deoria in which victims have gone through severe trauma, counselling should be provided immediately and they should be housed in a proper environment with sufficient recreational space.

“Also it’s important that authorities handle such cases with sensitivity. These are unusual incidents. Authorities can’t cover up their inefficiency with excuses such as lack of trained counsellors or psychologists. To start with, why can’t they train the staff available in the shelter home to counsel the victims?” said Rajat Mitra, a clinical psychologist and director of Swanchetan Society for Mental Health, a non-government organisation to the national daily.

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