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Abuse at shelter homes: MPs can’t pass the buck

Parliament is in session, and there has been uproar in both houses over the two incidents.

  On Monday, police in Uttar Pradesh’s Deoria rescued 24 girls from a shelter home amid allegations of a sex racket thriving on its premises. This incident comes on the heels of one in Muzaffarpur, Bihar, where minor girls of a shelter home told the police last month that they used to be stripped and beaten if they refused to submit to sexual demands. These incidents could take place because of local administrative negligence and a conspiracy of silence. However, there are another set of people who are equally to be blamed for such a situation: the Members of Parliament.

According to a report in Hindustan Times, since 2015, women and child development minister Maneka Gandhi wrote thrice to each one of the more than 700 Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha MPs, requesting them to “take out some time and visit” such shelters for women and children in their respective constituencies periodically to check the living conditions as well as the level of care being provided to the residents. To date, not one MP has responded, according to Ms Gandhi. “There is hardly any monitoring by state agencies either. I will not be surprised if more cases like Muzaffarpur and Deoria come out,” she said. There are 9,000 government-run child care institutions and shelter homes for women and girls across the country. While the Centre provides 60% of the funds for running these institutions, states pay the remaining 40%. Usually, the state department concerned finds an NGO to run a home. In addition to this, there are shelters funded fully by state governments. The Deoria and Muzaffarpur shelters, for instance, are funded by the Uttar Pradesh and Bihar governments respectively.



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