Women and Child Welfare Minister Maneka Gandhi today questioned the safety of shelter homes in the country in the presence of Home Minister Rajnath Singh, who was inaugurating the sexual offender registry portal in the national capital.
When the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) officials brought up the issue of sexual crimes being reported across the country, Ms Gandhi asked them about the sexual abuse of inmates at shelter homes. Her question specifically targeted officials from Bihar where over 30 girls were raped at a shelter in Muzaffarpur.
While Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Orissa and Andhra Pradesh top police officers participated through a video-conference, the Bihar officials concerned didn't come online for the questions.
The minister also demanded to know how the law enforcement agencies were not even aware of a tunnel that ran from the Muzaffarpur shelter to the home of the main accused in the case.
"He used to exploit women at his home. I appeal to all DGPs to keep a close watch on all shelter homes," she said.
Ms Gandhi pointed out that not a single state has responded to a letter by the Women and Child Development Ministry asking them about the rape kits that they were supposed to acquire. The rape kits will help in investigation of crimes against women.
The kits are being procured with money from the Nirbhaya Fund. The kit comprises essential items which will aid in collecting evidence such as blood and semen samples in sexual assault and rape cases. It also gives instructions about sample collection from crime spots.
She added that rape kits are still not available in many areas. "The MHA had to procure 79 lakh rape kits, but till date there is no information on how many of them have been obtained," she said.
Ms Gandhi also expressed concern over increasing incidents of runaway grooms and asked security forces to stay alert.
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