NEW DELHI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - The owner and manager of a children's boarding school in western India have been arrested after five minors said they were raped, forced to watch pornographic films and act them out with one another, and made to eat faeces as a punishment, police and charity workers said.
The 52-year-old male owner of the Chandraprabha Charitable Trust and his 30-year-old female manager were arrested on Monday after a police raid on the school in Karjat city in Maharashtra state.
"We received a police complaint from the Childline charity saying that one child had gone home for the holidays and confessed to his mother that abuses were happening," Karjat's Police Inspector R.R. Patil told the Thomson Reuters Foundation on Thursday evening.
"Five children in total have now come forward, and we have booked the two suspects under various offences," including unnatural sex (sodomy), wrongful confinement and sexual assault, he said.
The school accommodated 28 underprivileged children, 4 to 14 years old, for ten months of year, said Patil said, but most were on holiday at home at the time of the raid.
Police were trying to find out if the other children enrolled there were also abused and if there were any other suspects.
Childline's Anuradha Sahasrabudhe said the children had spoken about all kinds of sexual and physical abuse.
"It's a horrific case. The children have been telling us about the sexual abuse going on there. There has been oral sex, there has been forced sex where minor boys have been asked to rape minor girls. These things have been photographed," Saharasabudhe told the NDTV news channel.
"Children have been punished by making them eat dog excreta and when they vomited, they were made to eat vomit."
Police say the boarding school had been running since 2002, but was not registered and had therefore escaped government inspections by child welfare officials.
Child sexual abuse is disturbingly common in homes, schools, and residential care facilities in India.
Inspection mechanisms for children's homes, shelters, ashrams and boarding schools are inadequate and many privately-run facilities are not even registered, according to a February 2013 report by Human Rights Watch.
As a result, the government has neither a record of all the orphanages and other institutions operating in the country, nor a list of the children they are housing. Abuse occurs even in supposedly well-run and respected institutions because of poor monitoring, it added.
In May 2012, serious sexual exploitation was uncovered at a well-established residential care home for orphans called Apna Ghar (Our Home) in Rohtak on the outskirts of Delhi.
Girls said they were forced to have sex with strangers for money, the son-in-law of the director had molested them, and they had been stripped naked and beaten on their vaginas. Others said that staff had tied them up and suspended them from ceiling fans as punishment.
The abuse was missed by government inspectors and only came to light after three girls escaped and reported the crimes.