Updated: October 25, 2019 7:48:58 am
In a report to the Delhi government, a Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) audit of shelter homes for women and children in the national capital has flagged grave instances of sexual and physical abuse in around 14 facilities. The instances of sexual abuse in the guise of “punishment”, as detailed in the 143-page report, include insertion of “chilli powder in private parts, throwing hot water, beatings, denial of food” and other humiliations like giving group baths to inmates having serious mental illnesses.
The report, commissioned by the Delhi Commission for Women on the government’s directions, was discussed in a meeting chaired by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal Tuesday. The “grave concerns” pertain mostly to shelters run by individuals and NGOs. Serious cases of abuse were immediately dealt with, including filing police complaints, said a Delhi government official.
At a privately-run centre in South West Delhi, where residents include destitute women and victims of trafficking aged above 18 years, “a resident reported a shocking incident of sexual abuse where she was made to remove her salwar and chilli powder was inserted in her vagina. In another incident, a resident shared that hot water was thrown on her as punishment”, the report stated.
At a girls’ home in South West Delhi, an inmate received similar treatment for urinating in bed.
“The staff reportedly did this in front of everyone in the dining hall… This was often repeated, leaving the child with deep trauma and fear. The girls were constantly intimidated of consequences if they discussed issues… with anyone,” said the report.
A Delhi government-run centre for children in North East Delhi threw up alarming findings, including availability of two buckets for over 60 girls, “compelling them to take bath in the open”; broken glasses of dormitories; cold rooms. “While blankets were there in the store, same were not given to children. Also, girls were made to share beds due to severe shortage of cots and mattresses. When asked about it, a staff member tried to justify it saying the girls like it that way as it keeps them warm,” the report said.
In North West Delhi, at a facility meant for women suffering from mental illnesses, residents reported beatings, being locked up and food deprivation as punishment for disobedience. Residents also received no psychiatric or counselling support, the audit found.
“The overall situation of institutions in Delhi was found to be satisfactory. Most institutions were following the rules governing them; providing residents with crucial amenities… While some homes stood out for providing exemplary services, a handful were found to be working in contravention to the rules,” it added.
A government official said Kejriwal and Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia have assured action soon. The audit was carried out by ‘Koshish’, a field action project of TISS, which had unearthed the Muzaffarpur shelter home abuse.
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