Time for repair

  • The govt must strictly monitor all children’s homes and orphanages
Time for repair

Jul 1, 2014-

Last week, Action for Child Rights International-Nepal (ACRI-Nepal), a non-profit organisation working for children, released a rather disturbing press release. It mentioned that ACRI had obtained testimonies from three young girls, all residents of Balmandir—an orphanage run by the Nepal’s Children Organisation, a non-governmental organisation—who accused the orphanage’s staff of repeatedly raping and abusing them. After initial investigations, the Central Investigation Bureau arrested two suspects—Rabin Shrestha and Rabin Chalise. Of the two, Shrestha was a former employee at Balmandir while Chalise is the current president of the Balmandir Club NGO and a previous student there. Shrestha had previously been arrested in 2012 for allegedly raping a five-year old blind girl.

This incident once again highlights the deplorable manner in which orphanages are run in the country. It was only four months ago that the police raided Aamako Ghar, an old age home-cum-orphanage run by famed social worker Dil Shova Shrestha in Kathmandu. In that case, allegations of sexual abuse turned out to be false. Accusations of running a sub-standard shelter with poor hygiene without a permit and financial mismanagement, however, were true. This incident was soon followed by reports from other orphanages and children’s homes of abuse, inflating the number of children to acquire larger donations, trafficking and negligence.  

According to the Central Child Welfare Board, there are around 787 registered orphanages in Nepal, of which 570 are in the Kathmandu Valley alone. This number could be a lot higher as many operate without registration. The serious allegations against the Balmandir employees are worrisome as it is the largest orphanage in the country, claiming to look after 600 orphans in its 11 homes. It also reflects an utter failure on the government’s part to come to the rescue of the destitute.

To begin with, children homes and orphanages are a predominantly private initiative, as the government has no institution to look after them. There is a Central Child Welfare Board under the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare, which is supposed to look into all children’s issues. But this does not include providing institutional support to orphans and destitute children. Among other things, it is responsible for keeping a record of children homes and monitoring them. Going by the state of affairs, the Child Welfare Board has clearly failed to keep proper watch on them. The Board, therefore, must see to it that its officials effectively fulfil their monitoring duties and ensure that children homes abide by the rules. If not, they must be accordingly directed for prosecution. Occasional raiding of children’s homes after an uproar in the media will not suffice. The Welfare Board must come up with a long-term solution to the problem.

Published: 02-07-2014 08:51

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