Horrifying stories of torture and exploitation are emerging from the shelter home in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur where 29 girls were raped by operators and visitors last year, according to the state women commission.
Members of the Bihar state women commission who met the rescued inmates of Muzaffarpur short stay shelter home at the Mokama Nazareth Academy on Thursday said the girls were duped and drugged to keep them silent and allow sexual exploitation.
The girls were starved and beaten with shoes at any hint of rebellion.
Those who complained and protested were stripped, beaten and burnt with cigarettes. A girl who dared to stand up to the oppressors, despite repeated threats, was beaten to death and her body disposed of in a rickshaw, the commission said.
Altogether 31 girls rescued from the Muzaffarpur shelter home are staying at the Nazareth Academy, Mokama where they are being counselled by two experts from Bangalore and Delhi for the last few days.
“Most of the girls are in a better condition from the day I met them at a hospital in Patna. But the memories of physical and mental abuse they have suffered may take time to wipe out. At the shelter home they were denied food and clothes and were beaten with shoes,” Dilmani Mishra, state women commission chairperson said.
She said out of frustration, one of the inmate had even tried to end her life by slashing her wrist with a broken piece of windowpane glass, but her wounds were nursed and she somehow survived. As her wounds have not healed completely, she is undergoing treatment by a visiting doctor at the Nazareth Academy. Another girl had etched out the name of her brother on her wrist as a sign of protest, she added.
Dr Nikki Hembram, another member of the commission who had spoken to the rescued girls, said all their protests and oppositions had failed to give them any solace. “There was none to help them and in utter helplessness they had compromised and continued to bear the torture and trauma. All these years officials from child welfare committee (CWC)and district monitoring committee kept visiting the shelter home, but no one had the courage to speak out.”
She said, it was not possible for the girls to speak out before the CWC members because the shelter home employees never left them alone during those moments. “Fear of being punished if they opened her mouth loomed large on each one of them. The officials kept making routine enquiry and monitoring while the girls kept giving positive replies,” she said.
Dr Hembram said, “The girl (who was killed) continued to oppose the shelter home employees’ directions despite repeated threatening and tortures. One evening, she was brutally beaten even after she felt unconscious. When she stopped breathing, her body was packed in a sack and was thrown down the stairs. Next morning, it was loaded on a rickshaw and disposed of somewhere,” she said.
Reports of repeated sexual abuse of inmates at the short stay home in Muzaffarpur surfaced after Mumbai’s Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) carried out a social audit of shelter homes across Bihar last year. The institute submitted its report in April this year. The government lodged a first information report on May 31.
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