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Odisha home to 2nd highest orphans in child care centres!

244 children are currently living in the 12 open shelters in the State. 'Open Shelters' are primarily meant to protect children from abuse. As no latest study has been conducted, a 2005 report says 36 lakh children in Odisha faced sexual abuse then

Bhubaneswar: Is Odisha home to large number of orphan children? It seems so when the State in the year 2018-19 has been home to nation’s second highest children population who have no families and need urgent care & protection.

The number seems quite overwhelming as a high of 7,326 ‘distressed’ children have taken shelter in nearly 121 child care centres in the State.

Though ‘distressed’ children under the Juvenile Justice (JJ) Act 2015 are defined as children who are orphans, abused, victims of trafficking & sexual exploitation, living on streets, or whose families are at-risk, have addiction to narcotics, mentally retarded etc, the Act very clearly mentioned that shelter will be provided only to those children who don’t have families.

In the context of the JJ Act, the big takeaway is Odisha is home to country’s second highest orphan children.  

A glance at the ‘distressed children’ count in the country released by Union Ministry of Women & Child Welfare Department reveals a substantial number totalling 6,859 ‘distressed’ children are currently living in 96 child care homes across the State.

Significantly, the Odisha numbers are only second to Tamil Nadu having a count of 11,915. Moreover, a total of 223 more children have taken shelter in State’s 23 specialised adoption agencies.

Besides, as per the data released, another 244 children are currently living in the 12 open shelters in the State. The important mentioning here is children staying in ‘Open Shelters’ are primarily meant to protect them from abuse or keeping them away from a life on the streets.

It needs mentioning that, though, such a vast number of ‘distressed’ children were provided with institutional shelter under Centre’s flagship scheme called Integrated Child Protection Scheme (ICPS), child right activists call this number unreal and a minnow.

“The numbers are quite crude. the number may count to around a lakh,” said Sadashiv Swain, Secretary Centre for Child & Women Development (CCWD). He quoted a 2005 Woman & Child Development ministry’s report that said nearly 36 lakh children in Odisha faced sexual abuse among which 52.94 per cent are boys and 47.06 per cent are girls. Since no new study has been conducted thereafter, this is the only authentic data available, he added.

Significantly, realising the enormity, the Odisha Women & Child Development department this year has carried out a survey to map out the vulnerable children, means children without parents or having single parents, in the State, in order to bring them under the environment of secure protection. The report has been submitted only recently, said sources.

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