NHRC seeks report from Kerala govt after girls went missing from Kottayam shelter home

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New Delhi: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Tuesday issued a notice to the Kerala government and sought a report over the incident in which nine girls allegedly went missing from a shelter home at Manganam in Kottayam in Kerala.

The Commission took suo motu cognizance of the matter that when traced by the police at the residence of one of the inmates, the girls resisted their return back to the shelter home. The Commission said it was the third such incident reported from Kottayam in recent months.

The Commission said it appeared that there has been a lack of supervision and effective monitoring of the shelter home, run by the NGO Mahila Samakhya. "Despite this, it is accredited by the Social Justice Department and the Child Welfare Committee. It seems that the inmates are not satisfied or happy with their stay in this shelter home. There is a prima facie possibility of some kind of inhuman and undignified treatment being meted out to these girls forcing them to leave it," NHRC said in a statement.

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Accordingly, the Commission has issued a notice to the Chief Secretary, Kerala, calling for a report of the incident along with the action taken report. It should also be reported whether there was any involvement of a public servant from the Department of Social Justice or Child Welfare Committee to enable the girls to run away from the shelter home. The report must explain the reasons for the dissatisfaction and disillusionment of the missing girls with their stay in the said shelter home.

A notice has also been issued to the Director General of Police, Kerala regarding the status of the case registered for missing girls from Manganam in Kottayam and arrest, if any. The report must also contain the status of the implementation of the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for "Combating Trafficking of Persons in India", issued by the Commission in the year 2017 to prevent trafficking within the State of the vulnerable sections of society. The response is expected from the officers within two weeks.

Besides this, the Commission, considering the incidents of missing girls repeatedly happening in Kottayam, asked its Special Rapporteur, Hari Sena Verma to visit Kottayam and submit within two months a report, including the facts related to the instant case also. He is also expected to suggest measures to avoid such incidents in the future.

The Commission said over the years, it has been consistently advocating that missing children, including the girls, maybe the cause for trafficking to be exploited sexually or into slavery for forced labour at households, massage parlours, and spas. That is why it issued an SOP for Combating Trafficking of Persons in India in the year 2017. Still, it has been observed that concerted efforts from all stakeholders need to be augmented to eradicate a social menace like human trafficking.


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