Expressing strong displeasure over sexual exploitation and alleged pregnancy of tribal and scheduled caste girls in State-run residential school hostels, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has asked the Odisha Director General of Police (DGP) to furnish Action Taken Report (ATR) within four weeks.
Acting on petition by rights activist and lawyer Radhakant Tripathy, the apex right panel also ordered the Dhenkanal district Collector to ensure the payment of seven lakhs compensation to the victim of sexual violence in a residential school hostel.
The sexual exploitation of minor girls in school hostels goes unabated with some of them getting pregnant in various state-run SC ST residential schools, the petitioner maintained.
Flaying the slipshod attitude of authorities concerned in arresting such abominable offences, the petition sought for coercive legal action against the wrong doers and compensation with rehabilitation of the victims with preventive measures.
Minor motherhood and pregnancy of girls in tribal residential schools have emerged as an exceedingly disturbing trend with questions being raised on the safety of girls staying in these government-run institutions.
Cases of sexual exploitation of girl children in residential school hostels have come to the fore from across the state on several occasions. The state government had earlier issued directions to ensure strict implementation of guidelines and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs).
Guidelines and SOP on safety and security of borders, safe cooking and serving, food menu charts along with code of conduct and duties of each staff were circulated to school authorities. But its implementation seems to have remained on paper only.
Around a dozen instances of residential schools meant exclusively for girl children developing pregnancy and giving birth to babies have grabbed the spotlight in past years.
The child rights activists are of the view that insecure environs in the hostel have made girl children vulnerable to sexual exploitation.
In the majority of 1,200 functional residential schools for scheduled caste and scheduled tribe children, security setup is conspicuous by absence. As there are sanctioned posts of night watchmen, its’ the lady caretakers or matrons keep the vigil over the inmates. At least two cases of miscreants sneaking into hostels at night were reported two years back. With institutions bereft of toilets in several schools, inmates defecate in the open outside the school campus. As a result, the children are being exposed to onslaught by miscreants, said rights activists.