Child predators detained
Saturday, June 28th, 2014
Two men working in an orphanage in Kathmandu have been arrested and are facing trial next week accused of sexually abusing children in their charge.
Rabin Shrestha, former head of the adoptions at Bal Mandir, and Rabin Chalise, an ex-student who ran a Youth Club at the shelter, were arrested by the Central Investigation Bureau (CIB) last week after child rights activists presented evidence of repeated rape and abuse of girls and boys at the orphanage.
Shrestha had been arrested before in 2012 after a British woman lodged a complaint against him for allegedly raping a five-year-old blind girl that she was going to adopt.
“I tried to adopt her, but Shrestha told me I couldn’t do that. He wanted me to sponsor her instead and told me I would get a decision after she turned 16,” the mother told Nepali Times this week.
A Bal Mandir caretaker had informed her then that the girl was bleeding, and after examination a doctor confirmed she had been raped. Shrestha and Chalise are now also accused of also raping three other autistic girls at Bal Mandir, using other orphans for prostitution, and also abusing two young boys. Another unknown accomplice is at large.
The three men introduced themselves to the children as Bollywood film stars Amitabh and Abhisek Bachchan and would lure them into drinking alcohol and watching pornography before abusing them, activists say.
They would organise 'wedding ceremonies' every Saturday and dress the girls in red saris and play brass-band wedding music. One of them would spray water on the girls, who would then be forced to take off their wet clothes. This occurred during the afternoons, when Shrestha got a free pass at the orphanage. In the evenings, Shrestha used to take the children to a bar in Thamel where they were groomed to be prostitutes, according to children's accounts.
These detailed testimonies were presented to the CIB by child rights activists from ACR-Int (Action for Child Rights International). The evidence was cross-checked for veracity, and was so compelling that Shrestha and Chalise were arrested right away.
The British woman, who did not want to be named, also says her vision-impaired adopted daughter was tortured while in the shelter and suffered psychological trauma. She used to be tied up and hung from a tree, or lowered into a hole in the ground.
Both Shrestha and Chalise have denied the allegations and the Nepal Children’s Organisation that runs the Bal Mandir orphanage says neither men are involved with the orphanage. This is contrary to the British woman’s testimony that Shrestha had met her about adoption procedures. The CIB refused to comment because it said investigations were still ongoing.
Shrestha and Chalise were remanded in custody for another week on Thursday, and are due to appear in court on 3 July. The scandal follows a series of reports of abuse and trafficking at orphanages and shelters in Kathmandu.
The Bal Mandir is responsible for over 600 children in 11 homes across Nepal and is administered by the Nepal Children’s Organisation which has been mired in charges of corruption and abuse. In 2010, the Australian charity Mitrataa Foundation which had agreed to manage the orphanages pulled out because of corruption and mismanagement.
'Unfortunately, due to severe corruption within NCO, we had to cancel the project as we were not confident that we would be able to deliver on the objectives without risking Mitrataa’s reputation as an organisation that refuses to pay bribes,' the charity says in an online post.
Sunir Pandey and Trishna Rana
For more on the scandal, see Pound Pup Legacy:
Nepal — Rabin Shrestha (alleged child rapist) & Action for Child Rights International
Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.