Activists smell 'baby booking' racket as authorities seek explanation from SOFOSH and short stay home Chaitanya Mahila Mandal upon finding pregnant 15-yr-old under care of adoption centre worker at Sassoon General Hospital

The Women and Child Development department has sought an explanation from the Society of Friends of Sassoon Hospital (SOFOSH), an adoption centre, and the Chaitanya Mahila Mandal, a short stay home, after it found a 15-year-old physically challenged pregnant girl was being looked after by a caretaker from SOFOSH during her hospitalisation at Sassoon.  

In eye of controversy: The Society of Friends of Sassoon Hospital 
(SOFOSH). In a violation of CWC orders, a caretaker from the adoption 
centre was found looking after a pregnant teen during her hospitalisation

The matter came to light when a couple of Child Welfare Committee (CWC) members had gone to visit a rape victim at the hospital on January 24.

CWC order violated
Earlier, the teenager was shifted to Chaitanya Mahila Mandal in accordance with CWC orders, which stated that if the teenager needed assistance during her hospitalisation, it was the short stay home's responsibility to provide her with a caretaker.

CWC member Anita Vipat said, "A SOFOSH caretaker approached us and informed that a 15-year-old pregnant girl was being looked after in the hospital. She said that the institute does not have permission to provide accommodation and care to unwed mothers. This raised our suspicion and after initiating a probe, we discovered that the girl was transferred to a short stay home on January 18 after her mother had approached this institute.

"We have sought a four-point explanation from the short stay home: why a SOFOSH caretaker was accompanying the girl, whether a police case was registered against the suspect who had allegedly abused the girl, whether the victim's parents have lodged a complaint, and whether the girl's statement was recorded?" She added that a similar explanation had been sought from SOFOSH.

Anjali Pawar, director of Sakhee, an NGO, said, "This is not the first time that a girl transferred to a short stay home has been found to be under the care of an adoption centre. We have every reason to suspect that this is how adoption centres 'book' babies. Last time, four unwed mothers were found in the same institute. I appeal to the authorities to take strict action against the guilty."

Past controversy
This is not the first time that SOFOSH has been embroiled in a controversy. Last year, during a raid conducted by the District Women and Child Development Officer Suvarna Pawar, four pregnant girls were found to be staying at the adoption centre, following which Pawar had issued a show-cause notice to the adoption centre. 
During inquiry it surfaced that only one of the pregnant girls staying at the Rescue Foundation, a short stay home, had been legally transferred to SOFOSH as her delivery date was nearing.