Pregnancy among tribal girls at residential schools attains alarming proportion

Bhubaneswar: While Odisha government is making claims of providing the best facility to girl students of Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe community in the State, an increasing number of unwanted pregnancies among tribal girl students at residential schools has thrown open a stark reality.

Even SC and ST Development Minister Jagannath Saraka has accepted in the State Assembly that a total of 16 girls were found pregnant in residential schools between 2009 and 2018.

During a discussion on an adjournment motion in the House today, Saraka further stated that 14 students suffered mental torture at the residential schools meant for the SC and ST students. Close on the heels of a minor girl student’s pregnancy case in Kandhamal district, the minister’s statement discloses the pathetic condition of minor girl students in the State.

Congress MLA from Jeypore, Tara Prasad Bahinipati alleged that the State government is not aware of the issues in any way and tribal girls are being neglected. “Because of Odisha government’s apathy, tribal youths are inclining towards naxalism,” added Bahinipati.

Toeing similar lines, BJP chief whip Mohan Majhi said the minister has accepted that there is a rise in cases of pregnancy of girl students at residential schools in the State and the claims of educating tribal girls have fallen flat.

On the other hand, Saraka refuted the charges and said, “The State government is doing its best to provide all kind of facilities to tribals.”

A Class VIII girl student of an Ashram school in Kandhamal district was found to be pregnant during a monthly check up recently. Following which, the headmaster of the Ashram school lodged a written police complaint. As per reports, a college student had raped the girl student and impregnated her. Later, on the basis of the complaint, police arrested the accused.

In the recent past, several cases of minor girl students becoming pregnant came to light from several places including Bhubaneswar.

During the first week of this month, as many as three cases of positive pregnancy tests were found after health check up of 101 students of a tribal girls’ hostel in Bhubaneswar.