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Suryakant Jena

Bhubaneswar: From Kalahandi to Kandhamal and Malkangiri to Mayurbhanj, minor girls are falling prey to sexual predators sparking serious concerns among intellectuals and the public in general.

Looking back at the series of incidents over the last fortnight or so, over a dozen cases of rapes and pregnancy of minor school girls have come to fore in various places of the State, especially Mayurbhanj where more number of cases have been reported.

On February 7, a class VI tribal student of an ashram school in Morada area of Mayurbhanj was found pregnant followed by another incident on February 9 where a class IX student of a government ashram school in Udala area was also found pregnant. On February 10, a class II girl was allegedly raped in Bangiriposi area. Another minor girl was also allegedly raped by a minor boy inside the toilet of her school yesterday in Sadar Police Station area of Mayurbhanj.

Surprisingly such reports are surfacing at an alarming frequency ever since a Class VIII student of a Sevashram school in Baliguda delivered a baby girl in her hostel in Kandhamal on January 13. In the weeks that have followed, such incidents have increased alarmingly also leading to uproarious scenes in the State Assembly.

Intellectuals have expressed concerns over such spurt sexual abuse of minor girls and questioned the safety and security of girls in ashram and residential schools. Former Police DG Bipin Bihari Mishra said people employed in hostels at residential schools need to be more responsible and duty-bound to protect the dignity of the girl students.

Psychologist Sangeeta Rath said “Girls who study at Sevashram schools generally lack family support. Public awareness is also need of the hour.”

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