Maneka expresses concern over sex crimes in shelter homes

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New Delhi, Sep 20: Union Minister Maneka Gandhi Thursday expressed concern over sexual assaults in children’s shelter homes and increasing incidents of NRI grooms abandoning their brides.
She asked the police force to keep a close eye on such crimes and the arrest of culprits.
Speaking at an event, where a national registry of sex offenders was launched by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Gandhi pulled up representatives of the states which did not respond to a letter sent by Women and Child Development Ministry asking how many ‘rape kits’, a specially-designed kit which helps carry out immediate medical investigation into sexual assault cases, were procured by them.

“Twenty to thirty per cent of sexual assaults take place in shelter homes. In Muzaffarpur in Bihar, the head of a shelter home allegedly sexually assaulted several children, but he was not arrested immediately. There was a tunnel from the shelter home to his residence. That means the crimes must have taken place in his residence. I appeal to all DGPs to keep a close eye on all shelter homes,” she said.

Besides Singh and Gandhi, the event was attended by Union Ministers of State for Home Kiren Rijiju, Hansraj Gangaram Ahir, Union Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba and top officials of the ministries of home and women and child development. Top police and civil officers of the states attended the event via video conferencing.

Flagging the increasing incidents of abandonment of brides by NRIs and foreign grooms, Gandhi said initially there was an impression that such incidents took place only in Punjab which was incorrect.

“Such incidents take place across the country. We have reports of eight to ten cases every day where a foreigner comes (here), weds a woman, uses her for a week and then abandon her. Such women are neither married, nor widows. Please keep an eye on such incidents and take action and ensure cancellation of the passports of such men,” she said.

The women and child development minister pulled up the representatives of the states, who attended the event through vide conference, saying not a single state responded to a letter written by her ministry some time ago on the issue of procurement of ‘rape kits’

“Every police station should have at least three ‘rape kits’. But not a single state has responded to our letter and informed how many such kits were procured (by them),” she said.

Responding to Gandhi, Joint Secretary of the Home Ministry Punya Salila Srivastava said as many as 79 lakh rape kits were in the process of procurement and distribution across the country.

The kits were being procured with financial support under the Nirbhaya Fund, which was named after the 2012 Delhi gang-rape victim. The kit comprises essential items which aid in furnishing evidence such as blood and semen samples in sexual assault and rape cases.

These kits also contain instructions on collection of evidence from the crime scene. The kit would be sent to the closest lab and within two months one would have the results.

Earlier in the day, the home minister launched two separate portals to strengthen women’s safety. The National Database on Sexual Offenders (NDSO), which is accessible only to law enforcement agencies, will assist in effective tracking and investigation of cases of sexual offences.

The portal ‘cybercrime.gov.in’ will receive complaints from citizens on objectionable online content related to child pornography, child sexual abuse material, sexually explicit material such as rape and gang rape.

The NDSO is a central database of sexual offenders in the country which will be maintained by the National Crime Record Bureau.

The database is accessible only to the law enforcement agencies for investigation and monitoring purpose. The database will include offenders convicted under charges of rape, gang rape, POCSO and eve teasing.

At present the database contains 4.4 lakh entries. The state police have been requested to regularly update the database from 2005 onwards. The database includes name, address, photograph and fingerprint details of each entry. However, the database will not compromise any individual’s privacy, union home secretary Rajiv Gauba said.

The Cyber Crime Prevention Against Women and Children (CCPWC) portal will enable complainants to report cases without disclosing their identity.

This will not only aid the victims and complainants but also help the civil society organisations and responsible citizens to anonymously report complaints pertaining to child pornography, child sexual abuse material or sexually explicit material such as rape and gang rape.

Complainants can also upload the objectionable content and URL to assist in the investigation by the state police. The complaints registered through this portal will be handled by the police authorities of respective states and UTs. There are other features such as a victim or complainant can track his or her report by opting for “report and track” option using his or her mobile number.

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