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Odisha govt slammed over safety of minor girls in residential schools, shelter homes

Bhubaneswar: Opposition parties questioned Odisha government’s earnestness in ensuring safety and security of minor girls at residential schools and shelter homes across the State amid rising instances of sexual abuse.

BJP alleged that there are discrepancies in the data on sexual harassment against minor girls provided by the SC and ST Development Minister Ramesh Majhi in the State Assembly. As per information presented by Majhi, 445 women including minor girls were raped in 2017 and 2018. He had further stated that from 2014 till date, 12 girl students at different hostels in the State have been impregnated and of them, four have delivered babies. However, in another set of data presented by the minister in the Assembly, he had said that from 2010 to 2018, 11 girl students in educational institutions and hostels managed by the SC and ST Development department have become pregnant and out of them three have delivered babies.

“The minister has presented data incoherent to my questions which is very unfortunate. The government is not giving any importance to welfare of students at residential schools and shelter homes and therefore such incidents are happening. The State government is responsible for such cases,” said Rabi Narayan Naik, BJP MLA.

“We are discussing so much about protection of women and stringent laws. But who is monitoring whether the victims are getting justice or not. The laws should be strictly implemented,” said Social activist, Rutuparna Mohanty.

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After a spot visit in December 2018, a team of National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has said that the condition of shelter homes is deplorable. They have recommended action against 13 shelter homes and closure of five shelter homes.

“There’s no point of providing shelter to minor girls if they are raped,” said Sukanti Majhi, sarpanch of Beltikiri, where allegations of sexual harassment & religious conversion at a shelter home surfaced.
Women and Child welfare Minister Prafulla Samal said the government has received the NCPCR report and action will be taken after reviewing the report

“We have received the report, but yet to review it. We will direct the concerned departments to take action after a review of the report,” the minister added.

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