NCW Finds 'Extremely Pathetic' Conditions in 24 of 25 Women's Shelter Homes Inspected

Most of the homes did not have clinical psychologists, and women with serious mental illnesses or disabilities did not receive any special care.

New Delhi: The National Commission for Women’s (NCW’s) probe into Central government-funded shelter homes for women has found “extremely pathetic” conditions during random inspections in Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Odisha.

According to a report in the Indian Express, the commission found that in addition to congestion and poor infrastructure, women in need often did not have access to the right medical attention, whether physical or mental. In addition, while these NGO-run shelter homes are meant to be for short stays, several women had been living there for years on end. Some were also functioning as working women’s hostels.

In 25 of the 26 homes that were inspected, the NCW says, “gross violations” of the guidelines provided to these homes, because of which the commission has now decided to inspect all 500 such shelters in the country.

“They are meant to serve as temporary homes for destitute or abandoned women but women who should not be there were inmates in most of them, many living there for ten to 20 years. There is no skill development provided whatsoever. We are now finalising a methodology in consultation with academicians and activists after which we will carry out an enquiry in all states,” NCW chief Rekha Sharma told Indian Express.

Also read: To Revamp Shelter Homes, First Address Systemic Issues That Make Women Homeless

Most of the homes did not have clinical psychologists and women with serious mental illnesses or disabilities did not receive any special care or attention, the NCW found. In Karnataka, for instance, a rape survivor under severe mental trauma had received no counselling or assistance.

In West Bengal, the NCW described one home as a “congested prison”.

Only one shelter home inspected, in Odisha, was “decent”, head of the inquiry panel and NCW advisor V.R. Tripurana Venkataratnam told Indian Express. “No one has bothered to inspect these homes or monitor its running. Even the data on the homes is inaccurate. The list that is centrally available with the Woman and Child Development Ministry is different from the one with the state government while on ground it is an entirely different picture.”