Dhanalakshmi was 14 and pregnant when she was rescued from a children’s home in Tamil Nadu. She had been entrusted in the care of the unregistered institution by her mother, a ragpicker who could no longer afford another mouth to feed. But instead of receiving protection, the teenager was raped for months by staff in the home. Rights groups have long complained that children’s homes in India are poorly regulated, not inspected often enough, and that many privately-run institutions are able to operate without a licence leaving thousands of children open to mistreatment. Inside unregistered homes, there is rampant abuse and little care for the needs of a child. State authorities have closed 500 homes since 2011, citing mismanagement, a lack of registration and misconduct but human rights groups say abuse is rife across the 1,500 government and state institutions in the state. Campaigners estimate that 200,000 children in Tamil Nadu are residents of private orphanages, state-supported care homes, Islamic madrassas, temples and hostels. Many are not orphans but placed in institutional care by parents too poor to feed, clothe and shelter them. In the majority of reported cases, the perpetrators of abuse have been wardens, watchmen, cooks and other staff.