NCW-appointed panel finds abuse, violations of norms in shelter homes; physical torture, lack of medical aid among issues raised

New Delhi: Physical torture of inmates in West Bengal, no medical aid for an HIV patient in Odisha and no treatment for mentally challenged women in Uttar Pradesh were some of the key findings by the women's commission during inspections of shelter homes in these states.

The inquiry committee appointed by the National Commission for Women inspected five Swadhar Grehs in West Bengal, eight in Odisha, eight in Karnataka and five in Uttar Pradesh.
Out of 26 Swadhar Grehs, only one is running as per the guidelines of the scheme, according to the report submitted to the NCW by the inspection committee. These rehabilitation centres were either Centre-funded or NGO-run short-stay homes for sexually abused and destitute.

In Uttar Pradesh, mentally challenged inmates were found living at these homes but there was no sign of any treatment for them, "who are rolling on the floor at the time of inspection".
In West Bengal, the inmates complained that they are subjected to physical torture by the counselor of the Swadhar Greh.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

"Seven of the inmates are mentally challenged women and the Swadhar Greh is like a congested prison. The building, kitchen and rooms are dirty and unhygienic," the report on the condition of the shelter home in West Bengal said.

In Odisha, one inmate with a child, a trafficking case, complained to the committee that she is a HIV patient and the NGO is not providing any medication to her. "Though she wants to go back to her parents, she was forced to stay back in the Greh by the NGO," the report said.

In Karnataka, no psychological counselling was made available to inmates in depression and no sign of vocational training to the inmates, were among the key findings. One Swadar Greh in Karnataka just existed on paper.

"As per the address of the location of the Swadhar Greh given by the state government in the authenticated list, the Committee went to inspect the Swadhar Greh located in a posh locality of Bangalore city. But surprisingly there is no Swadhar Greh existing in the address and only the board of the organisation was placed and the room was locked," the report said.

Women's commission chairperson Rekha Sharma proposed introduction of a system like uploading the up-to-date data of inmates on the website of Women and Child Development Department.
She also suggested mandatory inspections by district monitoring committees every three months and submitting of reports to the government.

She suggested that counselors in the Swadhar Greh with Masters in Social Work or Sociology qualification cannot give any psychological counseling to the inmates, which is very much essential as most of the inmates will be in distress and anxiety. "Hence counselors with the qualification of clinical psychology have to be appointed as counselors," she said.

"Mentally challenged women have to be sent to the mental rehabilitation centre for better care. Old women who are above 60 years have to be sent to old age home.

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Updated Date: Dec 17, 2018 16:06 PM

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