A total of 539 child care institutes (CCIs) have been shut down so far as part of a crackdown launched by the women and child development ministry after a sex scandal surfaced at a shelter home in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur earlier this year.
In August, union minister of women and child development Maneka Gandhi had directed all states to conduct inspections at all CCIs following the scandal, which involved the alleged sexual abuse of 34 minor girls.
“Maharastra leads with the maximum number of the CCIs shut down at 377, followed by 78 in Andhra Pradesh and 32 in Telangana. In Uttar Pradesh, 20 CCIs have been shut down and in Karnataka 21,” an official at the WCD ministry said on condition of anonymity.
The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights conducted social audits of the CCIs and also directed unregistered institutes to register themselves within two months.
The central government also instructed state governments to conduct immediate inspections at all childcare homes run by the Missionaries of Charity (MoC), a Roman Catholic order founded by late Mother Teresa. The Jharkhand govt in July shut down an MoC home following the arrest of a nun and a worker over alleged “baby-selling”.
Gandhi last month had announced that the Missionaries would be returning to the government’s Central Adoption Resource Authority system, which functions as the nodal body for adoption of children in the country and is mandated to monitor and regulate in-country and inter-country adoptions.
The announcement came after a meeting Gandhi had with an MoC delegation led by Sister Mary Prema Pierick, who heads the organisation. Four CCIs each have been shut down in Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh. In Gujarat, Andaman & Nicobar, and Chhattisgargh, one CCI each has been shut down.
“The monitoring mechanism to regularly keep track of the adherence to quality care indicators by the child welfare committees and district supervisory committees is very much important to prevent and combat child abuse in child care institutions,” said Priti Mahara, Director of Policy, CRY.
“The institutions shut down by government must be taken as case studies to identify the fault lines, defaulters and set accountability and punishment. What is the paramount important is providing safety and counseling services to the children who were enrolled in those institutions,” Mahara said