Deaths of 2 disabled kids in Kerala centres in a month raises concern
In the first week of February, a 10-year-old child with a hearing disability died after she was allegedly physically harassed by a female staff at her special school hostel. This is the second such incident in a month in Kerala. There are growing calls for stringent monitoring and tough action.
When 10-year-old Anu’s parents left her at the Rahmaniya Special School Hostel, little did they imagine what would follow. Anu, who had a hearing disability, was found dead, allegedly after she was beaten by a hostel staffer. What is even worse is that Anu was not even taken to the hospital immediately after she sustained injuries.
The incident throws light on the lack of sensitisation of staff members at institutions that are meant to care for disabled children in Kerala.
A shocking incident
Anu was diagnosed with a hearing and speech disability after birth. According to reports, Anu refused to have her food on that day. She was beaten by a female staff for that. Anu later went to bed staying hungry. She vomited a few times throughout the day. Concerned authorities never checked on her. Her sister, who was staying in the same hostel alerted authorities when Anu fell unconscious. She was then taken to the Kozhikode Medical College, which was around 500 meters away from the school. Anu was soon confirmed dead by doctors.
Not only was Anu given immediate medical attention, but her parents were not informed about her condition.
Nazeer Chaliyam, Member, Kerala State Commission for Protection of Child Rights says, “There are already many existing rules to protect children with disabilities. But nothing is being implemented. Disabled children must get more care. There needs to be a follow-up on measures to safeguard them. Even the RPWD Act, 2016 is not rightly implemented at such centres in Kerala”.
According to reports, the family came to know about Anu’s plight only after the post-mortem report was released on 5 February. It showed bruises on her body. A local committee has been formed to take swift action against the school authorities. Petitions have been given to Minister AK Balan and the city police commissioner as well. If further action is not taken, the committee along with Anu’s family members plans to go on a strike.
Viswan, an activist and Anu’s neighbor told the media that authorities did not inform the girl’s parents about Anu being unwellthe whole day. Another neighbour Rafiq said, “If she was taken to the hospital in the morning, maybe her life would have been saved”.
In January, a six-year-old boy with autism was found dead at a government run group home in the same city Kozhikode. The exact cause of his death still remains unknown. But post-mortem showed that he had suffered injuries on his body and head.
With such incidents of harassment on a rise against disabled children, it is high-time that authorities step up and take stricter actions to safeguard children.