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Sexual abuse: DGP orders inspection of child care institutions in Odisha

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Bhubaneswar: In the wake of sexual abuse of some inmates of shelter homes in Deoria in Uttar Pradesh and Muzaffarpur in Bihar, director general of police (DGP) RP Sharma on Monday ordered for a thorough verification of Child Care Institutions in Odisha.

Apprehending such type of illicit activities in the state, Sharma has instructed all superintendents of police (SPs) including SRP Rourkela and Cuttack as well as DCP Bhubaneswar and Cuttack to conduct verification of the child care institutions situated in their respective jurisdictions.

“According to Section 75 of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2005, if any person who is in charge of a child shelter home or the Child Care Institutions assaults, abandons, abuses, exposes or willfully neglects the child, he/she shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years or with a fine of rupees one lakh or both,” Sharma said.

“In Section 19 of the POCSO Act, 2012, any person who apprehends that an offence under the Act is likely to be committed or has knowledge that such offence has been committed, he shall provide such information to Special Juvenile Police Unit (SJPU) and to the local police,” he added.

In order to streamline the activities of CCIs and to check any illegal activities in future in the children’s shelter homes, DGP has instructed the SPs to constitute a team comprising of officers of IUCAW (Investigative Unit on Crimes Against Women) / IAHTU (Integrated Anti Human Trafficking Unit)/SJPU (Special Juvenile Police Unit) including lady officers of the District for verification of shelter homes on priority basis and submit the visit reports.

The visiting teams are required to collect the following information

(i) Staffing pattern and registers maintained by the shelter homes containing details of the inmates and organizers.

(ii) Detail source of finance.

(iii) Safety measures like boundary wall, CCTV Surveillance etc.

(iv)Functions organised by the CCIs, persons frequently visiting the centre and purpose of such visits.

(v) Communication system like internet facility, cell phones, televisions available.

(vi)Medical facilities available in the centre and details of special doctors and nurse appointed for the purpose

(vii) Name of the school where children’s are admitted, name of the tutors and persons in charge of students who are prosecuting studies.

(viii) Details of staff engaged and members of the management committee including their addresses and phone numbers.

The visiting teams shall also verify the records and actual children available in the shelter homes. The interaction with the inmates shall be in a free and congenial atmosphere. One lady officer needs to interact with the female inmates. The inmates shall be specially asked if they have any complaint especially in terms of sexual abuse. The visiting teams must behave in a polite manner with inmates as well as the management.

The district SPs may request the collectors to depute CDPO or any other officer to join the team during the visit.

DGP further instructed the SPs to review this matter on weekly basis and submit a report to State Police headquarters. Sharma also reiterated the SPs to sensitize the police officers in their districts and keep a close watch in this matter to avoid any complaint of sexual harassment of inmates in shelter homes.

“No one should be unnecessarily harassed during this exercise. In case any incident of sexual abuse of children’s comes to light, immediate and stringent legal action must follow without any delay,” the DGP added.

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