The Supreme Court, which expressed concern today over incidents of rape in the country by observing that women are being raped “left, right and centre”, has asked all the print, electronic and social media not to publish or display photos of victims of sexual abuse even in blurred or morphed form in any case across the country.
The apex court also warned against interviewing minor victims of sexual abuse saying it has serious mental impact.
It asked the Centre to apprise it on steps proposed to be taken to prevent sexual abuse of minors in shelter homes across country.
It said that victims of child sex abuse can only be interviewed by members of National Commission For Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) and State Commissions For Protection of Child Rights in presence of counsellors.
The apex court also pulled up the Delhi Commission for Women for trying to intervene in the Bihar shelter home case and said that no politics should be involved in the matter.
Earlier in the day, a bench comprising justices M B Lokur, Deepak Gupta and K M Joseph came down heavily on the Bihar government for funding the NGO which ran the shelter home in Muzaffarpur where girls were allegedly sexually abused.
The bench, during the hearing in the morning, referred to National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data and said that every six hours, a woman is raped in India.
It referred to the NCRB data and said 38,947 women were raped in India in 2016.
Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), which conducted an audit of shelter homes, told the court that out of 110 such institutions in Bihar, “grave concerns” have been raised about 15.
To this, the Bihar government told the apex court that nine cases of sexual abuse have been lodged involving these 15 institutions run by various NGOs.
Over 30 girls were allegedly raped at the shelter home run by Brajesh Thakur, the chief of the state-funded NGO.
The alleged sexual exploitation of the girls was first highlighted in an audit report submitted by TISS to the state’s social welfare department in April.
An FIR was lodged against 11 people, including Thakur, on May 31. The probe has now been taken over by the CBI.
In all, sexual abuse of 34 inmates out of 42 was confirmed in their medical examination, while two others who were unwell were yet to undergo medical tests.
The TISS audit report stated that many girls at the shelter home had complained of sexual abuse. A special investigation team was formed to probe the complaints.
The NGO running the shelter home in Muzaffarpur was blacklisted and the girls were shifted to shelter homes in Patna and Madhubani.
Women staff members of the shelter home and Thakur were among those who were arrested by the police in connection with the case.