Child abuse
[Representational Image]Creative Commons

Seven minor tribal girls, living in a hostel in the Wayanad district of Kerala, have allegedly been molested by a member of the staff at the school hostel. The issue came to light only a couple of days ago, when one of the girls spilled the beans on the hostel employee to an official from the school.

Also read: Chhattisgarh Police outrage: At least 34 women, including 16 tribals, sexually assaulted in 2015, says NHRC

Local reports say the girls — all aged 14-15 — were residents of an orphanage at Muttil in the Kalpetta town of Wayanad. One of them was spotted by the aforementioned school official while she was coming out of a local shop under what has been described as "mysterious circumstances." When confronted, she reportedly broke down and revealed what she and six other inmates at the orphanage had been facing.

After she revealed their plight, the school official informed the police, who have lodged a case in this regard and have started their investigation. On Tuesday morning, it was reported that the cops had detained five people in this regard and were questioning them over how the girls had been molested over the course of two months without anyone becoming suspicious.

According to some reports, the girls were initially lured by young boys with sweets, taken to a secluded location, made to watch pornographic films and then abused. The girls — from standards 7, 8 and 9 — were silenced with talk of harm coming to them if they told anyone.

While an official statement from the police in this regard is yet to come, it has been speculated that as many as 30 girls at the orphanage have been abused in this manner, even though only seven of them have come forward to lodge a complaint and cooperate with the police. Wayanad SP Rajpal Meena is reportedly monitoring the investigation and was quoted by a local news outlet as saying: "A few are in custody. There are chances more cases would follow."

The case comes close on the heels of a Christian priest being arrested after impregnating a 16-year-old girl. The case came to light only after the police probed it and found that the girl's father, who had taken the blame on himself, was not involved. Following a spate of such incidents, the Kerala government had only recently said it would start a sex offenders' registry