The state Women and Child Development Department,caught unawares late last month after the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) reported a 13-year-old girl getting pregnant at Pune-based orphanage Vidyawati Ashram,has issued a directive to the nearly 100 orphanages in the district to house boys and girls,who are 10 years or older,in separate homes. It has also ordered them to get a medical check-up of all girls done.
A separate inquiry headed by the district women and child development officer has been ordered by the state government.
The case is now with the Juvenile Justice Board and the boy believed to have impregnated the girl has been sent to Shivajinagar Observation Home. The girl,who is over six months pregnant,has been shifted to a womens observation home. The case landed Vidyawati Ashram,a non-aided orphanage at Kamshet that houses around 44 (19 boys,25 girls),in a spot. It led to suspension of its superintendent after CWC member Anita Vipat filed a case of negligence.
The issue came up during Diwali and we filed a complaint at Wadgaon Maval police station. The case has now gone to the Juvenile Justice Board. A thorough inquiry on medical health situation in orphanages needs to be highlighted, said Vipat.
Initially,it was taken to be a rape,but a thorough inquiry found the act was consensual. The superintendent was released on bail on Wednesday. However,it shows gross negligence by those who run orphanages, said Vipat,who,and another CWC member,had registered the complaint. Ashram authorities refused to comment while the suspended superintendent said he would wait till the inquiry is complete.
The pregnancy had gone unnoticed by those who run the orphanage and also by officers who conduct checks. When the pregnancy started showing,the case was referred to a specialist. Thereafter,CWC intervened. The department,caught in a tight spot,has instructed that all the 19 boys at the orphanages be shifted.
District women and child development officer Surekha Pawar heading the investigation told Newsline that initial inquiry shows it was consensual sex. The boy would be shifted from the observation home to attend normal school after the inquiry. New directives have been issued to shift boys and girls aged 10 years and above to separate homes. We have also issued a warning that those found violating the order can be punished, said Pawar.
Sex education module
The Department of Women and Child Development,which has been imparting sex education at various levels has realised that it is absent in orphanages. In the wake of the recent case,the department would initiate an adolescent sex education programme. “We will get a module ready for kids in all orphanages,” said Surekha Pawar.