18 girls rescued from Chennai orphanage after distress call alleging sexual abuse

The director of the orphanage is absconding, the police said.
A representative image of a minor girl
A representative image of a minor girl
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A young girl staying at an orphanage in Vyasarpadi in Chennai frantically dialed the Childline number 1098 and got in touch with officials. She immediately narrated the harrowing experience faced by the children, accusing the director and his kin of sexually abusing girls in the orphanage, especially during the pandemic. She told officials about the alleged abuse faced by her and 18 others at the unlicensed orphanage.

Soon, the juvenile aid police unit (JAPU) of Chennai police and Child Welfare Committee rushed to the spot and sealed the juvenile orphanage home, Socio-Economic Education Rehabilitation Society (SEERS) at Sathyamurthy Nagar in Vyasarpadi on Monday. The orphanage was found to be unlicensed.

The team shifted the juveniles to other juvenile care centres. However, the director of SEERS Kalayanasundaram went absconding by the time the police could reach the spot to detain him. According to reports, 23 juveniles were residing in the home and five of them returned to their parents during the COVID-19 pandemic. The remaining 18 students including two college-goers were residing in the orphanage.

The police said that the director, his son, his brother and a few others had been sexually abusing the children during the lockdown. The police also said that Kalayanasundaram's brother sexually assaulted the children while transporting them from school to home in his auto rickshaw.

As soon as the childline received the distress call, the District Child Protection Officer (DCPO), Child Welfare Committee (CWC) and Special Juvenile Police Unit (SJPU) were alerted. The team rushed to the location and held an enquiry with the children. The orphanage was sealed and the statement was recorded.

The Children were then produced before CWC and they were given shelter in a home near Chetpet. The District Child Protection Unit also warned that they were acting on information against unregistered homes in Chennai. Strict action will also be taken if orphanages were run without licenses in the city, they added.

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