The assault and harassment of women in the state-run shelter home Navjeevan Mahila Vastigruh in Mankhurd has once again put a huge question mark on the safety and security of women in places that are supposed to be looking after them.
While some activists feel that the need of the hour is to ensure proper monitoring, others feel the fundamental objective of giving the destitute women a future itself has become a far-fetched dream.
Kiran Moghe, president of All India Democratic Women’s Association, says, “These homes are supposed to bring the women out of the trauma they went through in the past, and not aggravate it. The term rescue and rehabilitation has lost its meaning.”
This sentiment is echoed by Asha Bajpai, dean at the School of Law Rights and Constitutional Governance at TISS and a women’s rights activist. She says, “There are no trained counsellors in these places. They are called shelter homes just for the sake of it. No regular inspections happen here, neither is there proper government funding. I see no future for the women living here.”
On the other hand, Vidya Chavan, the NCP state women’s wing chief, blamed the administrative staff at the home. “Qualified and responsible citizens must run such places. We are going to ensure that the people responsible for this are put behind bars.”
Veena Gowda, a women’s rights lawyer, feels stricter laws should be put in place, and that the security of the women should not be compromised at any cost. She said, “These women do not have social support. Where will they go if both the government and the legal system fail to protect them?”