Bal Mandir students protest public exposure of ‘sexual abuse’ charges

Students of Bal Mandir, also known as Nepal Children´s Organization (NCO), on Wednesday protested against the public exposure of some ´sexual abuse´ charges at a time when the Central Investigation Bureau (CIB) was intensifying its investigations into the matter.

CIB has been investigating the charges following the detention of two persons previously associated with NCO, one of the oldest orphanages in the country. Following media reports that quoted child rights activists making the charges, the accused were arrested for involvement in the sexual exploitation of three students at NCO.

The students encircled the office of the Action for Child Rights International (ACRI) at Kuleshwor and handed over Salina Tamang, country director of ACRI, to the Metropolitan Police Circle Office, Kalimati, for exposing a sensitive matter associated with the future of students at NCO.

People gathered to vent their ire against Salina Tamang of Action for Child Rights International at Kalimati police station on Wednesday. They claim that the allegations against Bal Mandir made by rights activists and some legal advocates are motivated by their desire to garner international donations.(Dinesh Gole/Republica)

RK Tamang, an ex-student of NCO, said, “We cannot remain mum when so-called rights activists acting out of vested interests.expose a sensitive case that directly impacts the psyche of students residing in the orphanage.” 

The students also challenged country director Tamang to prove the alleged sexual abuse charges leveled by three three minor girls. They claimed that the rights activists and some legal advocates have been raising the matter for the sake of garnering international donations in the name of child rights. They chanted slogans against the activists and the charges made by them. 

However, country director Tamang said that she was misquoted by media and she did not collect any donations in the name of the minors. “I am speaking for child rights. Let us wait until the CIB publishes its findings,” she said amidst police security at Kalimati police office. 

The two under police custody were identified as Rabin Chalise, a former NCO student, and Rabin Shrestha, a former NCO employee. The two were arrested after three minor girls living in the Naxal orphanage of the organization complained about being sexually exploited.

According to SSP Uttam Karki, officiating chief of CIB, “We are investigating the case seriously, in view of the sensitivity of the charges.” But it was not a good idea to make public statements or to protest when the case was under investigation, he added. He also claimed that the facts of the case would be unveiled in the coming week. 

The minor girls were shifted to a safe house run by some other NGO in coordination with the Central Child Welfare Board (CCWB) and the police. 

Subash Pokharel, general secretary of NCO, said that the organization has been supporting CIB to ensure free and fair investigations but the rights activists had been trying to influence the investigations in order to garner foreign aid. 

He also underlined that none of the girls residing at Bal Mandir had been exploited so far but if the accused were proved guilty they should be penalized. 

The stakeholders should respect the sensitivity of the orphanage and child rights, he added. The children threatened to go for stringent protests if the stakeholders ignored the sensitivities of Bal Mandir.

Source: eKantipur