July 30, 2011

Mumbai Mirror

Girls, boys raped daily, alcohol forced down their throats

Hope for the 13 boys and five girls, as new charge sheet in the Kavdas orphanage rape and abuse case gives true picture of the torture the victims went through

A fresh charge sheet has raised hopes of justice for the 18 children who suffered rape, starvation, regular thrashing and sexual assault at an orphanage in Kavdas.

The children (13 boys and five girls) were rescued from the horror house on August 22, last year.

After being let down by the Child Welfare Committee, State government and the police, the children are inching towards justice.

A special team headed by Superintendent of Police Rashmi Karandikar has submitted an exhaustive charge sheet, narrating how the horrors extended from pitiable living conditions, almost no food, physical abuse, going right up to violent rape of the girls, and sodomy of the boys. Alcohol was often forced down their throats while their tormentors abused them.

Daily chores

The charge sheet lists how the mentally-challenged children, aged between seven and 13 years, were made to wake up at the crack of dawn, and slog through the day. Their chores included fetching water from a river located a km from the orphanage, cleaning the premises, and cutting grass to feed the cattle owned by the orphanage founder. Hesitation, delay or mistakes in carrying out the chores resulted in relentless beatings, the charge sheet said.

Once the children were done with the morning chores, which took them at least three hours, they given a dry chapatti each, which was basically leftover food from the previous night, with some watery dal.

The victims stated in fresh statements to Karandikar’s team that they were never given tooth brushes, soap or hair oil. Bath was a luxury granted once in 15 days, and that too at the river.

At times, the five girls were made to wash clothes of all inmates. On paper, the orphanage had toilets, but none was functional. The children were forced to defecate in the open, the charge sheet said.

Post lunch, if one could call a dry chapatti and dal fare a lunch, the children were sent back to work, when they should have been studying in an in-house school. The orphanage had recruited teachers, and had shown classrooms on the premises while applying for licence to run the shelter home.

However, the teachers were just task masters who made the children slog. In their statement, the children said two ‘teachers’ - Sonal Shirke and Harshada Nichite (both have been arrested) used to beat them with iron rods if they did not complete the chores.

The duo were often joined by Shailaja Tarmale alias Sakshi Gole (also arrested), president of the orphanage, who ruthlessly beat up the kids. Medical examination of the children revealed that they were subjected to frequent thrashing by rods and sticks.

It is further alleged that the ailing children were taken to a government medical centre in Shahpur only when their condition turned critical. At the shelter home, the ailing kids were locked in a dark and dingy room, where they were forced to eat, sleep and even defecate.

The severely ill kids were not able to work, and got very little food. Their condition deteriorated over a period, and of the 24 kids shifted to the orphanage in December 2009, five died between May and July 2010.

On August 22, Mumbai Mirror reporters visited the orphanage, and found five severely-ill children locked in a room. Let alone walk, they were barely able to stand. All of them were severely malnourished, and lunged for the biscuit packets that the Mirror team had taken for them.

Sexual abuse

The children revealed that the worst was reserved for the evening. Immediately after sunset, they were served dinner, which included not more than two chapattis each and watery dal.

The children said they were never served eggs, fresh vegetables or meat, which the institution was supposed to provide, according to the terms and conditions set by the State for the licence.

Milk and other dairy products were unheard of at the orphanage.
Post dinner, the boys and girls were packed in different rooms, which had no beds, sheets, mattresses or even pillows. They told the police about the horrors night after night, when someone would walk into their rooms and rape them.

The five girls in their statements have stated that orphanage founder Pundalik Gole walked in almost every night in an inebriated state. He would force bottles of country liquor down the girls’ throats, and raped them.

Those who protested were brutally thrashed, and scalded with cigarettes. Medical examination revealed burn wounds from cigarettes on all girls, mostly around their private parts. Gole has been arrested.

The girls mentioned that men working in the orphanage would also walk into their rooms, and raped them. They identified their tormentors Sikander Pinjari, Sayyed Nawab, Jitendra Chavan, Nana Baghul and another man they knew as Chhota Chavan. The men subjected the five girls to unnatural
There were times when a girl was raped, and minutes later, forced to have unnatural with another man. Their medical examination revealed of the five girls, four were repeatedly raped, while a seven-year-old was sexually abused on several occasions.

The men regularly barged into the boys’ rooms as well. In their statement, the boys said that their tormentors would ask one of the elder boys to fetch a younger inmate.

The boys were often forced to drink alcohol, following which they were sexually abused. Often, one of them would be raped by different men. Medical reports said eight boys were sexually abused repeatedly.

The charges

Eight of the accused have been booked for gang rape, custodial rape, rape of the mentally-challenged, unnatural, molestation, assault, attempt to murder, culpable homicide not amounting to murder, and abetment.

They have also been charged under Sections 23, 25 and 27 of the Juvenile Justice Act for torture and starvation. Office bearers of the orphanage have been charged for cheating under Section 420 of Indian Penal Code.

While applying for a licence to run the orphanage, a list of seven trustees was given to the state. Of the seven, three were related, which is against rules. As per the government norms, members of the same family cannot be on a trust that runs an institution.

While the investigating team has booked the trustees, there is no mention of the State officials who accepted the list, and granted a licence to the orphanage.

Loopholes in the previous charge sheet

The charge sheet filed by the Shahpur police in the Kavdas case on April 6 was so weak, the Bombay High Court asked the State to respond to the allegations of shoddy work by the police.

The HC rap came after Mirror reported on April 27 at least 10 crucial leads the Shahpur police ignored, or didn’t follow up, while filing the charge sheet.

Incisive leads such as an inmate’s death at the orphanage due to alleged beating by one of the trustees, allegations of rape and sexual assault, and deaths of five children in three months were not looked into. The police didn’t record the children’s statements either.

While the orphanage trustee Pundalik Gole, named main accused, was charged with rape, molestation, assault, intimidation and ill-treating the children, there was no mention of the six other trustees of Adivasi Magaswargiya Krishi Vikas Sanstha, which ran the shelter home, and its 22 employees.

Over the past seven months, the police interviewed several witnesses, interrogated the accused, spoke to the victims, and yet, they were only able to name Gole in the case.

July 14, 2011


Hindustan Times

Conviction rate for rape cases in state just 19%

The conviction rate in rape cases registered in Maharashtra is less than 20%, reveal the latest government data, raising worrying questions against the backdrop of the rise in the incidence of rape and molestation in Mumbai, reported by Hindustan Times in its Tuesday edition. A judicial verdict was given in only 283 of the 1,483 rape cases registered in the state in 2009, reveal the latest figures available with the government. In the remaining 1,200 cases, either the accused have been acquitted or the victim is still waiting for justice.

At 19.1%, the conviction rate in the state is way below the national average of 26.9% (in 2009), show data obtained from the National Crime Record Bureau and the state home department.

The poor conviction rate could explain the rise in the number of offences against women. "The low conviction rate is a matter of concern and is one of the main reasons for a rise in [rape] cases. We need to make the process, from approaching the police to conviction, more stringent to improve the scenario," Satej Patil, minister of state for home, told HT.

On Tuesday, in an exclusive report, Hindustan Times published the latest data that shows a 15% rise in the- number of rape and molestation cases in the city from November 2010 to April 2011, compared to the previous six months.

Advocate Manisha Tulpule, who has handled several rape cases, blames both the police and the government. "As per a Supreme Court directive, rape victims should be given immediate free legal, medical aid, counselling and compensation, which is absent in majority of the cases," said Tulpule.

Shirish Gupte, a Bombay high court advocate, suggests that the huge case backlog is the problem. "We follow all the norms put down for tackling rape cases, but sometimes they get delayed because of a huge backlog," he said. "Also, in several cases women backtrack because of lack of medical evidence or because they get married."

Brinda Karat, who heads the All India Democratic Women's Association, said making fine promises is not good enough. "Only promises, but no action has led to this. A poor legal system, inconsiderate police who question the victim a million times, doing court rounds are reasons for low convictions and high number of rapes," she said.

Indian Express

Experiments in sex shocks teachers

KOCHI: Giving an indication that all is not well with the teenagers in the state, the adolescent clinics set up by the government in three districts have started reporting cases of substance and sexual abuse, homosexuality and criminal behaviour.

The teaching community and the health workers in the schools are alarmed at the ‘experiments in sex’ among schoolchildren, which include homosexuality.

“It is when we sit through the counselling sessions that we come to know about how badly teenagers need help. Many of them are carried away by peer pressure and those who get into these groups don’t know how to handle themselves,” says

Dr Gracy Thomas, Medical Officer, Adolescent Reproductive Sexual Health(ARSH)programme, Ernakulam district.

‘’The complaints and doubts are shocking. The teachers are aware of it, but most of them don’t know what to do,” says Dr Gracy.

So, when the ARSH medical unit team led by Dr Gracy, a counsellor and a primary healthcare nurse visit schools across the district, the children come crying for help.

“Some of them wait to just talk to me and ask me to help them. We identify such cases and try and make sure that they come for counselling at the adolescent clinics,” she explains. After hearing the stories, it doesn’t look surprising that Paravoor, Kothamangalam and Vettichira incidents happened.

“The mobile phones have been responsible for introducing the children to experiment in perverse acts after watching blue films and SMSes,” Dr Gracy Thomas said.� After the sex education class which explains to them that the changes in their body are all part of growing up, the medical team warns them of the health consequences of acquiring habits beyond their age.

“We show them pictures of diseases caused by free sex, tobacco and alcohol abuse and drugs,” she explains.

“Most of them are shocked and even the most unmanageable children listen attentively. The reaction from the kids indicate that most of them do not know� the harsh realities behind the fantasies.”

“Now, we are working on strategies to bring all problem children into these clinics.

‘‘The seven clinics in the district have started getting a good response. We hope to bring in new methods to address the psycho-social and reproductive health problems among adolescents,” says Dr K V Beena, District Manager, National Rural Health Mission. “The state government, as part of the 100-day programme of the Health Department, has okayed `50 lakh from the Child Development Centre for the clinics, says CDC Director M K C Nair.

“The fund will be used for the welfare of adolescent girls.� ‘‘We haven’t planned anything for the boys yet, though we are aware of problems like homosexuality and sexual abuse among them,” says Nair.
Hindustan Times

89 cases of rape, molestation in 180 days in Mumbai

The city saw 89 cases of rape and molestation registered with the police in 180 days (between November 2010 and April 2011). The situation is worse across Maharashtra, with four rape and molestation cases being registered every day. The latest data accessed by Hindustan Times from the state home department shows that Mumbai has seen a 15% increase in the number of rape and molestation cases in the past six months, compared to 77 from May to October 2010.

“It is certainly a matter of concern if the data is revealing this. We will immediately look into the issue and see what can be done,” Umeshchandra Sarangi, additional chief secretary (home) told HT.

At 166, Mumbai has the highest number of cases registered among the nine cities in the state in the past one year (May 2010 to April 2011). The nine cities include Navi Mumbai and Thane.

There were 755 cases registered across the state from November 2010 to April 2011, a rise from the 739 cases registered in the previous six months.

“These figures are just the tip of the iceberg. Few cases of rape get registered, and even fewer reach the conviction stage. The start is to get the police to register rape cases,” said Neelam Gorhe, Shiv Sena legislator and women’s rights activist.

Just two weeks ago, the Bombay high court pulled up the railway police for the rising number of offences against women, following an HT report published in the June 21 edition about the molestation of a Nerul resident in a moving train.
The court recommended to the state that it make molestation a non-bailable offence. Sarangi said the government is now considering an amendment to section 354 of the Indian Penal Code, to convert molestation into a non-bailable offence and to make the sentence harsher. “We will ensure a higher conviction rate for rape cases,” he said.

Currently, the punishment for molestation is two years’ imprisonment, while for rape it can be ten years’ imprisonment or a life sentence and/or fine.
The rural areas of Maharashtra are divided into seven police district ranges, and the Nagpur range is the worst, with 111 cases registered during the six-month period ending this April. It is followed by the Kolhapur range, home minister RR Patil’s backyard, which saw 98 cases.

Known as the rape capital, Delhi saw 258 cases of rapes and molestations registered in six months, from January 1 to June 30.

July 7, 2011


Hindustan Times

Rape victims to be compensated

Rape victims will soon get a financial assistance ranging upto Rs 3 lakh. There will also be a provision for interim relief of upto Rs 20,000 and restorative support of Rs 50,000, which will be given within 15 days of the incident. This was stated in a landmark draft scheme of the Centre submitted before the Delhi high court on Wednesday. The court directed the Centre to finalise the scheme and notify it within six weeks.

Besides financial assistance, the women and child development ministry’s scheme aims for “restorative justice” in the form of legal and medical assistance, shelter, counselling and other support services.

The relief can be accessed by a woman, minor girl or legal heirs of an affected woman. In certain special cases involving minor girls, mentally challenged or handicapped women, suffering from HIV/AIDS or STDs the amount can go upto R5 lakh.
Interim relief has to be paid within three weeks of filing an application with a district board. Taking a humanitarian view of the circumstances, the ministry has allowed for a time period of 60 days from the date of recording an FIR to file an application.

The police will also have to forward the medical certificate and preliminary investigation report within 72 hours. The district board can disburse the interim relief of R20,000 after a preliminary inquiry as far as possible within 15 days and in a maximum of three weeks.

The final amount of R3 lakh can be directly disbursed by the district board within one month from the date of which the affected person gives her evidence in the criminal trial or within a year from the date of filing an FIR.
A bench headed by chief justice Dipak Misra had lashed out at the Centre on May 8 for delaying the scheme for over a year.

“The matter has to be taken up with all seriousness as a case of this nature requires attention for the purpose of enabling rape victims to be rehabilitated both socially as well as mentally because the anguish, the agony and the trauma suffered by a rape victim is absolutely immeasurable,” the court had said.