In the wake of recent reports of sexual assaults at 60 child observation homes in the city and state, the Women and Child Development Department has sought ‘extra staff’ and ‘separate security’ arrangements to address the issue. While Pune and other key cities have more than one homes, the remaining districts have at least one home each to house children both in conflict with law as well as those children that need care and protection.
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After already being in a spot for the recent two cases of sexual assault reported at the Yerawada Boys’ Observation home, the WCD geared up to address the issue of increasing checks at all these homes. Senior officials said that merely having a caretaker at these homes was not enough and needed additional manpower and private security to keep a check on all the children housed in the homes.
The 60 observation homes of which 12 are government run have about 12,500 students, which include 55 children who are in conflict with law while the remaining are those under child care and protection.
The recent draft put forth by the officials includes need for more staff, ‘de-addiction counselors’ and ‘private security guards’ to be appointed for each of the homes.
According to senior officials, over the years of the 463 posts, 125 posts are vacant and the demand has been on for a long time.
The WCD, in addition, to more staff and security has also addressed the shortage of infrastructure as most homes face a problem of basic infrastructure as was in the case of Mankhurd home. The proposal to do up the homes is still with the Public Works Department (PWD) and proposals have been put up for other homes as well. “Most of the homes are not in good condition and proposals forwarded to the PWD are pending,” officials said. The department officials were worried when two cases of sexual assault surfaced at a government observation home in Pune within a month itself. The recent FIR was filed at Yerawada police station on September 24 under sections 3 and 4 of the Pocso Act 2012 as well as the case was also booked under various cases. The first case was also of sexual assault. The second case of sodomy emerges within a month. “We need a cohesive effort to address the situation. We need to have trained staff and additional security to address this situation,” said a senior member of the WCD.
While a failure of system has been accepted by the officials, an inquiry has already been instituted against the WCD officials for not taking into account the complaints that had been reported to the official earlier.
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