Patna: The Malala Fund, a non-profit organisation set up by the youngest Nobel Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai, has suspended aid to two non-government organisations (NGOs) running shelter homes in Bihar in the aftermath of reports of sex scandals in child care homes.
The two NGOs which stopped receiving funds are Nari Gunjan and Sakhi, which had been running child care homes in Patna and Kaimur districts. The action comes in the light of social audit reports of Mumbai-based Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), which painted a very grim picture of the condition of children inside the care homes.
“After reading the disturbing allegations of child abuse in the TISS’ report to the government of Bihar, Malala Fund is immediately suspending its grants to Sakhi and Nari Gunjan, two organisations named in the report, pending further investigation,” Malala Fund’s Chief Communications Officer Taylor Royle told media.
Royale added that Malala Fund’s child protection policy, which both organisations signed, “explicitly prohibits any harm or exploitation of children”.
Malala, a Pakistani activist for female education who survived terrorist attacks in October 2012, and Ziauddin Yousafzai, founded the Malala Fund in 2013 to champion every girl’s right to 12 years of free, safe and quality education. The organisation works in regions where large numbers of girls miss out on secondary education with their priority countries being Afghanistan, Brazil, India, Lebanon, Nigeria, Pakistan and Turkey.
The suspension of funds by the international charity organisation has come as a severe embarrassment to the state government as it tries to set things right. “We have nothing to do with the Malala Fund, we have no relations with this charity organisation,” Bihar social welfare department’s director Raj Kumar told media today.
The TISS in its 100-page report had reportedly mentioned that “Institutions of all categories were found to be indulging in some form of abuse. Incidents of harassment, sexual abuse, corporal punishment, neglect and humiliation were reported rampantly”.
The TISS had been hired by the state government to conduct social audit of 110-odd shelter homes, child care homes and short stay homes in the state.
The TISS, a multi-campus public funded research university in Mumbai had reported gross sexual abuse of inmates in at least 15 shelter homes running across the state. It especially raised questions over the prevailing state of affairs at short stay homes for both girls and boys running at Muzaffarpur, Patna, Munger, Gaya, Araria and Kaimur districts, reports said.
It was the TISS which exposed the infamous sex scandal at a shelter home running at Muzaffarpur town in Bihar. An official report said as many as 34 destitute girls were raped at the care home. The incident is currently being investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). So far, the CBI has quizzed a former Janata Dal United minister Manju Verma and her husband while many others are said to be on the radar of the investigating agency.