Tamil Nadu police have arrested a pastor for sexually abusing a 15 year old girl. The girl stayed at the hostel run by the pastor and the matter came out when she refused to go back to the hostel after Christmas holidays. He had threatened her to not tell anyone about the abuse.
Parents of the victim were introduced to pastor Andrews in the church they frequent. Learning that the pastor and his wife run a ‘hostel’ for children and women. They admitted the victim and her brother to the institute and the siblings went to school from there. On December 14, the girl skipped evening prayers and stayed at her room pleading health issues. Pastor Andrews who was on rounds came upon her and sexually assaulted her. He also threatened her to not reveal the abuse to anyone.
There are different accounts of what happened next. Some reports say that the girl refused to go back to the hostel after coming home for Christmas holidays. Others say that the pastor’s wife refused to take the siblings in, saying that they are undisciplined. Upon investigating the kids, parents coerced the story out of the girl. They filed a complaint with the local police who booked the pastor under the POCSO Act.
Media reports mention the institution run by the pastor and his wife as ‘hostel’. Many Christian institutions are run as children’s homes, hostels and orphanages. But most of the time children with parents who cannot afford to send them to school or working parents who cannot take care of them are taken in such institutions. Hindu Post has reported (1, 2, 3, 4, 5) how such institutions prey on vulnerable children and are funded by foreign donors most of the time.
Child rights bodies which need to monitor such institutions are dominated by Christians and so many incidents of abuse don’t even come out. It is time that the government, both state and centre, spared their attention truly towards child welfare and crack down on such institutions.