The Delhi Police Saturday arrested four staffers of a private shelter home for girls, after an audit conducted by the Delhi Commission for Women Thursday revealed that minors there allegedly faced “sexual assault, harassment, and corporal punishment”. “We have arrested four women staffers. They have been sent to judicial custody after being produced before court. The statement of the minors was recorded before a magistrate, where they corroborated the allegations they had levelled against the staff,” DCP (Dwarka) Anto Alphonse said.
The findings of the four-member committee set up by DCW state that “at least two girls, aged six years, alleged that female staff put chilli powder in their private parts as a form of corporal punishment”. The private home has 22 girls between the ages of six and 15, and DCW members are stationed there at the moment. A police officer told The Indian Express, “Of the four women arrested, two are ‘house mothers’ whose job is to take care of the girls. They are both 21 years old. One welfare officer of the home, aged 23, has been arrested, along with the home in-charge, aged 25. During the statement in front of the magistrate, the girls alleged that if the younger ones wet the bed, they were beaten up… If they refused to wear clothes or showed any defiant nature, they were beaten up.”
The body in-charge
Shelter homes for minors need to be registered with the state government, as per the Juvenile Justice Act. The Child Welfare Committee is supposed to regularly visit and inspect homes, both private and government-run, and initiate action, if necessary.
The expert committee comprised three members of the DCW, and one external member, Ritu Mehra of NGO Pardarshita. On Friday, the Delhi Police filed an FIR against the staffers under section 6 of the POCSO Act and section 75 of the Juvenile Justice Act. Older girls at the home told the DCW committee that they were “forced to do domestic chores such as cleaning toilets and rooms, and washing utensils and clothes”.
DCW Chief Swati Maliwal said, “We have been informed about the arrests, now I request the Child Welfare Committee to ensure new management of the shelter home. The girls need urgent rehabilitation.”