Taking a grim view of the security situation of women in the country, the Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the authorities to pay heed to the rising number of cases of sexual assault taking place. “As per the NCRB data, a girl is raped every six hours in the country, there have been over 38,000 rapes in the country. Madhya Pradesh tops the list while Uttar Pradesh comes second. What is happening in the country,” the SC said.
Hearing the case of alleged rapes in Muzaffarpur shelter home, the SC also pulled up the Bihar government asking that how did the state allow “the horror homes to flourish.” The court said that the Bihar government has been funding the NGO which runs the shelter home since 2004 but it how did it not have any idea about what is happening there. “Did you never think of doing any investigation there,” the SC asked.
The court also asked Bihar government over what has it done to punish the guilty in the case. The government defended itself saying that their officers visited the shelter home but no one gave them any information about such a case then. However, the court yet again held the government responsible stating that if the officials would have reached out to the children and spoken to them, they would have got to know about such incidents happening there. “The inspections were treated only as a formality and were never taken seriously, the court said.
The SC had earlier on August 2 issued notices to the Bihar government and the Centre in connection with the case. The court had taken suo motu cognisance of the case and sought an explanation from the Bihar government and the Women and Child Development (WCD) Ministry asking how no action was taken to stop minor girls from being raped in shelters home.
Over 30 girls were allegedly raped at the centre run by Brajesh Thakur, the chief of the state-funded NGO. The alleged sexual exploitation of the girls was first highlighted in an audit report submitted by the Tata Institute of Social Science (TISS), Mumbai, to the state’s social welfare department in April. An FIR was lodged against 11 people, including Thakur on May 31.
Sexual abuse of 34 inmates out of 42 was confirmed in their medical examination, while two others who were unwell were yet to undergo medical tests. Women staff members of the shelter home and Thakur were among those who were arrested by the local police in connection with the case.