A month after the news of the alleged rape of an 11-year-old child in Chennai was reported, an orphanage in the city is now under the scanner for sexually harassing over 40 students between the ages of 4 and 15.
The matter came to light when two city magistrates - Anitha Ananth and B Soundarya - were invited to conduct a legal awareness programme at the Eternal Word Trust orphanage in Saraswathi Nagar, Thirumullaivoyal, on Thursday.
According to the police, a few children at the orphanage came forward to complain about the harassment that they had been facing. The Avadi All Women Police Station Inspector Shoba Rani, who was present at the programme, took note of their complaint and acted quickly to rescue the children.
Following the complaint, 24 girls and 20 boys were shifted out of the orphanage to care homes.
As investigations began, the police soon discovered that the orphanage did not have an operating license.
Speaking to TNM, an officer investigating the case says, “They were operating without a license. We arrested them the same evening. Jacob Samuel (64) was running the place along with four others. He was on the run but we later managed to nab him on Saturday night. We have also arrested Vimala Jacob (59), Babu Samuel (54), Muthu (27) and Bhaskar (39).”
All five have been booked under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012, under sections 5 (Aggravated Penetrative Sexual Assault), Section 6 (Punishment for aggravated penetrative sexual assault) and Section 17 (Punishment for abetment).
According to a report in the Deccan Chronicle, the children were medically examined and the results are awaited.
A month ago, on July 17, news came to light of Priya*, who resides with her parents at an apartment complex in the city, and was allegedly sexually assaulted, raped and threatened by service staff in the building over a period of seven months. Seventeen alleged perpetrators, including a 66-year-old liftman and security personnel in their twenties, were arrested by the All Women’s Police station in the locality.