January 23, 2021 5:18:41 am
The Chhattisgarh Women and Child Development (WCD) department on Friday is learnt to have recommended to the Centre that the Ujjawala home in Bilaspur, where several women have alleged sexual abuse by the staff, be shut down.
The recommendation has been made on the basis of a report submitted by officials of the department on the situation at the shelter, run by NGO Shivmangal Shikshan Samiti.
The Samiti’s president Jitendra Mourya, who has been charged with sexually abusing women staying at the shelter and arrested on Thursday, was sent to judicial custody on Friday.
According to sources, officials of the state WCD department conducted a “sudden examination” at the Ujjawala home on January 18, a day after three women escaped from the shelter home with the help of the family members of one of them.
These women later went to the police station and complained about sexual and physical abuse at the shelter. The police then registered an FIR under bailable sections. After the women’s statements were recorded in front of a civil judge in the district court on Thursday, the police added sections of rape and assault to the FIR and nabbed Mourya.
It is learnt that the report submitted by the WCD department director and her team says that women at the home were scared and not ready to speak. Of the seven women at the home, two are learnt to have told the panel that they were kept there forcefully after police took them there.
One of them, a 27-year-old woman, is learnt to have told the panel that she had left her home to start working and living independently. She said that after living at the shelter home for a week, she tried to leave and her family came to take her home, but the staff did not let her meet them.
Out of the seven women, one each is from Assam, Odisha and Uttar Pradesh, and four are from Chhattisgarh.
The report, it is learnt, states that the women have revealed in separate interviews that they were not given enough food or articles of daily use like soaps, and medical supplies. They were “verbally abused, beaten and intimidated”, it noted.
The report states that the superintendent Aarti Verma and president Mourya used indecent language with the inmates. Further, the staff couldn’t explain the allegations or the visiting hours of Mourya.
The panel that examined the home has evacuated the home out of safety concerns.
“Three of the women were handed over to their families after both sides accepted repatriation. The rest have been accommodated in other centres for women,” an official said.
So far, police have not questioned any of the women staff at the Ujjawala home.
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