© 2018

From Exploitation to Empowerment

A Socio-Legal Model of Rehabilitation and Reintegration of Intellectually Disabled Children


Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xxviii
  2. Back Matter
    Pages 159-213

About this book


This book presents the outcomes of a field action project at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS). Project Chunauti (English translation: Project Challenge) focused on a group of intellectually disabled, orphan children who were survivors of abuse, exploitation and neglect, and describes their journey toward empowerment. It offers a vision and a reproducible, adaptable model for rehabilitation that can foster the social re-integration of intellectually disabled orphans at institutions. As the implementation of laws is especially important for vulnerable groups, the book also outlines a socio-legal approach that not only impacts the children directly, but can also bring about policy level reforms.

Project Chunauti was born out of the need to explore options for these children and to set standards for their care, protection, rehabilitation and social re-integration. The core objectives of the project were to provide support and services, including counseling, education, life skills and vocational skills training, as well as medical and psychiatric support to help them overcome the trauma of abuse and exploitation. Its further goal was to train the staff of state-run homes and state authorities, helping them prepare and implement care plans and rehabilitation, combat child sexual abuse and malnutrition, employ positive disciplining, and better understand disabilities. The book also draws on the Project team’s experiences of rolling out the replication process in Maharashtra.

This book highlights the role of the courts, media and other stakeholders in the journey towards empowerment and justice. It is a combination of social-work methods, application and implementation of law and legal advocacy, as well as best practices for protecting children’s rights and developing rehabilitation and re-integration projects for intellectually disabled, orphaned children in India. The interventions detailed here provide a reproducible, adaptable model of intervention for children in institutional care across the country.


Intellectually Disabled Children Rehabilitation Sexual Abuse Public Interest Litigation Chunauti

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Tata Institute of Social SciencesMumbaiIndia

About the authors

Dr. Asha Bajpai is a Professor of Law and founder Dean of the School of Law at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai. She holds a PhD in law and has been involved in teaching, research, training and legislative reform for more than three decades. As the founder Dean, she designed the unique LLM course on Access to Justice, aimed to prepare community and people’s lawyers for social change. She has served as Commissioner and Amicus Curiae in several PILs at Bombay High Court. She is recognized as a national and international expert on child rights and laws, and on legal reform for the vulnerable and marginalized sections of the society, and has been invited as a visiting faculty by several national and international universities. She is a Member of the Global Alliance for Justice Education and Child Watch International Research Board, as well as several national and international committees. Her publications include Child Rights in India- Law, Policy and Practice; and Adoption Law, among others.

Bibliographic information

  • Book Title From Exploitation to Empowerment
  • Book Subtitle A Socio-Legal Model of Rehabilitation and Reintegration of Intellectually Disabled Children
  • Authors Asha Bajpai
  • DOI
  • Copyright Information The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2018
  • Publisher Name Palgrave Macmillan, Singapore
  • eBook Packages Law and Criminology Law and Criminology (R0)
  • Hardcover ISBN 978-981-13-1717-0
  • Softcover ISBN 978-981-13-4667-5
  • eBook ISBN 978-981-13-1718-7
  • Edition Number 1
  • Number of Pages XXVIII, 213
  • Number of Illustrations 27 b/w illustrations, 0 illustrations in colour
  • Topics Human Rights
    Social Work and Community Development
    Disability Studies
  • Buy this book on publisher's site


“I would like to congratulate Ms Bajpai for writing this book on a very important topic namely empowerment of intellectually disabled orphan children. This book should help students, teachers, lawyers and social workers and the Government in understanding the problems of children in need of care and protection and the solution to end their concerns. Ms Bajpai was appointed to help the court as 'Amicus Curie' and to assist the court on several important issues. It was only because of her help I could pass several orders to help these children. I wish her all the best in her new endeavour of putting on record her arduous but immensely successful journey of bringing hope and light in life of these children.” (Kanade V M J, Retd. Mumbai High Court)

“Project Chunauti was created to secure justice to the mentally challenged orphan children who were abused and exploited by individuals in whose care they were placed, Chunauti adapted a child rights based and multi-stakeholder approach involving the Hon. Bombay High Court, Government of Maharashtra, Maharashtra’s Child Welfare Committee, Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), and Mankhurd Children’s Home… Professor Asha Bajpai put together a professional team to motivate and counsel the children… Through this process, a highly innovative, replicable and adaptable model of de-institutionalization, rehabilitation and social-reintegration of mentally challenged children in State care has been demonstrated. This model that is described in this book can support all children in State care in Government and Non-Government run institutions to de-instutionalise and reintegrate with the society as productive individuals. I am proud to have been associated with the initiative as the Director of TISS to facilitate the team to accomplish a very difficult and nationally-important mission.” (S. Parasuraman, Former Director of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (August 2004 to February 2018); currently Senior Fellow, Fudan University, Shanghai, China; Adjunct Professor, National Institute of Rural Development and Panchayat Raj, Hyderabad; Director, Banyan Academy of Leadership in Mental Health (BALM), Chennai, India)

Chunauti (“challenge”), a Field Action Project of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, emerged from public interest litigation initiated by the Mumbai High Court after five intellectually disabled orphan children died in a state-aided institution in Maharashtra, India. The project aimed to reform state care systems to provide intellectually disabled children with the education, care, and dignity guaranteed by law. This book details the court directions, media coverage, factual findings, state agency responses, and legal foundation for development of this rehabilitation model to integrate intellectually disabled children into society and ready them for independent living.
Policymakers, lawyers, child and disability rights advocates, students, and other readers who seek models of collaboration to bring about systemic change will find this book a gripping and provocative read.” (Prof. Jane Ellen Schukoske,  Advisor, S M Sehgal Foundation, India)

“On 24 August, 2010, Mumbai Mirror reported the death of 5 intellectually disabled orphan children in a government-recognized and aided home in Thane district, Maharashtra. The deaths were a result of the malnutrition, neglect, and abuse they endured. Further investigation also revealed a history of physical abuse and sexual assault. Following this disclosure, Asha Bajpai, Professor of Law at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, was appointed amicus curiae by the Bombay High Court. This book traces the journey of the children who were rescued and rehabilitated through Project Chunnauti.
This book is an important resource for all those who wish to undertake a similar journey to empower children with intellectual disabilities so that they can be protected and empowered.” (Enakshii Ganguly, Co- Founder- HAQ: Centre for Child Rights, New Delhi, India)