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Sexual abuse shadow still looms large

MUMBAI: A one-room flat overlooking a tiny terrace is not exactly how a shelter for street children should look like. But then, 'The Anchorage' was never supposed to be a conventional shelter.

Three years after a group of inmates 'dared' to register charges of sexual abuse against their trustee, Duncan Grant and his associate, Allan Waters, with the Colaba police, justice seems to be so close, yet so far.   Waters was deported to Mumbai on Monday morning, a year after he was arrested by the Interpol.

The current batch of inmates at the shelter hesitate when asked about details of the case, but are quick to point out that none of them have ever complained against Grant or Waters.

"I've been living here for over five years, attending the municipal school at Colaba, but never have I seen anyone misbehaving with the boys," says 15-year-old Arjun. "We do not have any problems here, they have been very kind to us," he insists, but lowers his eyes immediately.   Arjun is a part of a motley group of thirty, currently occupying the shelter.

The boys usually attend a local municipal school during the day and do odd jobs in the evening to earn some pocket money. other inmate, Kiran, is a bit more vocal. "We did have foreign visitors here at times, who were friends of Duncan but they only helped bring donations for our institute," he says. Later, Kiran reveals that there was a foreign tourist by the name of Allan Danny, who was caught having sex with a 12-year-old inmate.

Ask them about the declining number of inmates and the boys reply that the place is only a 'drop-in shelter.'   "The number of inmates keep varying, we had started off with 150 boys a decade ago, but they come and go," says a 16-year-old inmate.

However, sources who were associated with the shelter, have a different story to tell. For a long time, boys at the shelter were subjected to severe physical and sexual abuse.   They were frequently beaten with canes and shoes and their were bruise marks all over their body.   The 'tainted' inmates who blew the whistle about the sexual abuse within the shelter, have long been thrown out of the place.   Now adolescents, the young men are quite upbeat, but life at the shelter is one thing they don't wish to discuss.

Source: The Times of India


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