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Allegations of rape at women and children’s shelter in India

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Auveen Woods
WVoN co-editor

An investigation has been launched after it emerged that women and children in a sheltered home in North Eastern India had been raped and forced into prostitution by both the head of the shelter and local police officials.

On May 10, a team from the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights raided Apna Ghar shelter run by a non-governmental organisation (NGO), Bharat Vikas Sangh, and rescued 94 girls.

This week in testimonials to a four-member committee initiated by the Punjab and Haryana High Court, former inmates of the shelter revealed that they were gang raped, forced into prostitution and tortured to induce abortion when they became pregnant.

In shocking statements two of the inmates, one deaf and mute and the other mentally challenged, said that when they became pregnant, their stomachs were stepped on and sticks inserted inside their private parts to force abortions.

The two girls  in question were raped repeatedly by several men including the son-in-law of the head of the NGO.

One of the girls became pregnant twice.

Reportedly inmates were specifically asked whether police officers sexually abused them with almost all those questioned confirming that they had.

Inmates said they had been drugged by both police officers and the head of the NGO into being compliant.

Other girls have spoken about being brutally assaulted as punishment for being disobedient or for trying to escape.

Neeti (name changed) a victim from the Apna Ghar shelter said:

“I tried to escape from the shelter, but was caught. As a punishment, I was disrobed and I was almost strangulated. I was also beaten with a stick on my foot because of which I was unable to walk for several days.”

Jaswanti Devi, who ran the shelter, has been arrested along with her daughter, son-in-law and a relative.

Devi is a recipient of a number of state awards for “empowering women”.

Rohtak, where the shelter is located, is the home town of Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, the leader of the Indian National Congress.

Prior to these revelations the Apna Ghar shelter for women and children was getting grants amounting to millions of rupees from the state and central governments.

The Haryana Police have admitted in the High Court that Devi, who has been charged with trafficking, torture and bonded labour, may have not just sold inmates but also children of the mentally challenged inmates.

However a report by the High Court has revealed that Devi is being given special treatment out of fear that she will name government and police officials who conspired with her.

The shocking stories emerged after three girls from the Apna Ghar shelter escaped in the first week of May to Delhi and reported the abuses to the Delhi police.

  1. What a terrible thing. This is so heartbreaking.

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