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In January, 17-year-old Renu was awarded the National Bravery Award by the Prime Minister for showing exemplary courage. She had blown the lid off the shocking physical and sexual abuse of women and girls at Apna Ghar shelter in Rohtak, Haryana. It was Renu's information that led a team from National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) to Apna Ghar to rescue more than a hundred women and children who were allegedly being exploited under the garb of providing shelter.
Eleven-year-old Renu came to Apna Ghar shelter home in 2005. On May 9, 2012, Renu escaped from Apna Ghar with two other inmates in the dead of night, making their way to Delhi. She contacted a Delhi-based NGO and reached NCPCR. Her statement was recorded on May 10 by a Child Welfare Committee in Delhi, where she narrated horrific tales of physical, mental and sexual abuse meted out to the inmates of Apna Ghar.
In her statement, Renu described how she was used as a domestic help for the last six years by Jaswanti Devi, the shelter in-charge, and how she was denied food for several days whenever she refused to perform menial tasks. She also alleged that Jaswanti Devi's son-in-law, Jai Bhagwan, frequented the shelter and abused inmates physically and sexually. Renu was also part of a group of inmates who were regularly sent out to marriage parties and made to perform and entertain guests. Renu says that if any girl protested, they'd be tied to iron grills of windows, naked, and made to perform obscene acts by Jaswanti Devi, who watched and derived pleasure out of these acts.
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