NHRC Seeks Report On Teen Pregnancies In Odisha Schools

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Bhubaneswar: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has asked the Odisha government to submit an action taken report regarding the incidents of teen pregnancies in different schools in the state. The Odisha Chief Secretary has to submit the report within four weeks.

NHRC has warned that if the state government fails to meet the report deadline, it will invoke a coercive process under Section 13 of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 for personal appearance of the authorities concerned before the commission.

The commission had passed the order earlier this week after hearing a petition filed by rights activist Radhakanta Tripathy last month on teen pregnancies in Odisha schools, especially in residential institutions.

In his petition, Tripathy alleged that minor girls belonging to SC/ST categories faced sexual exploitation in some residential schools.

The petitioner cited examples of three recent incidents reported from the tribal-dominated districts of Koraput and Nabarangpur. These incidents are:

#On December 12, a Class IX girl of a school near Taragoan in Nabarangpur was found to be pregnant.

#On December 8, a Class X girl of a tribal residential school in Koraput district was found to be pregnant during a medical check-up.

#On December 4, a Class VII girl of a residential school in Koraput district was found to be pregnant. The husband of the school headmistress was arrested for allegedly raping the minor.

The petition also pointed out to an incident in March 2015 when the then SC & ST Development Minister, Lal Bihari Himirika, had disclosed the names of 17 sexually abused children in the Assembly. While reading out the list, the minister had also disclosed the schools and the classes the children studied in.

The state runs around 1,000 residential educational institutions, known as ashram or sevashram schools, with more than 3 lakh students studying there. Most of the students live free of cost at the hostels.

“It is the responsibility of the state government to give the girls a safe environment,” the petition added.

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