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New Delhi: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has taken suo motu cognizance of a media report that over 500 Scheduled Tribe girls have died under suspicious circumstances in the state run Ashram Schools of Maharashtra over the past decade. Reportedly, there have been instances of sexual abuse of the girl students by the teachers and staff of these schools.

Considering the seriousness of the matter, the NHRC has issued a notice to the Chief Secretary, Government of Maharashtra, calling for a detailed report in the matter within six weeks. It has observed that the contents of the news report are indicative of violation of right to life and dignity of the girl students studying in these schools and also highlight the negligence and apathy on the part of the authorities, according to an NHRC release.  It has also observed that it seems the state government has not taken any initiative to redress the grievance, which is a serious matter of concern because it has not submitted a report as yet to a notice issued to it on October 1o, 2016, on the similar  allegations that 740 tribal students had died in ashramshalas in 10 years, despite a reminder on November 26, 2016.

According to the media report, carried on January 14, 2017, a probe has revealed that the authorities keep menstruation records of the girls and conduct urine tests on them to rule out pregnancy, whenever the girls miss their periods or come back from the vacations. The probe report has questioned the rationale behind this unethical practice being done on minor girls without consent of their parents.

Reportedly, a tribal girl, who returned home for Diwali vacations, complained of pain in stomach. She was found to be a victim of sexual abuse at school. Another 12 year old girl also reportedly complained of sexual abuse by a sweeper of the same school located in Khamgaon taluka of Duldhana district in Maharashtra. The school hostel accommodates 70 girls but does not have a female superintendent.


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