J&K needs shelter homes

Kashmir Times. Dated: 12/4/2018 1:37:22 PM

Cases of abuse, abandoning differently abled women and children far too high to be ignored

The case of a differently abled woman in Kangan being abandoned by family, raped and left on the road to deliver a child is a grim reflection of many flaws within the system at various levels - familial, social, gender and legal. It reinforces the need for awareness, accessible and affordable health-care, better legal justice mechanisms and proper and adequate shelter homes for the abandoned people, especially women and children, who are more vulnerable. Women are more likely to face domestic abuse, sexual assaults in and outside their homes and girls are more likely to be either abandoned or become victims of female foeticide and infanticide. According to one estimate, across the country 10 lakh cases of female foeticide take place in the country with the help of gender determination tests. The death of young girls in India exceed those of young boys by over 300,000 each year and every sixth infant death is specifically due to gender discrimination. Differently abled women and children as well as aged and widows are also prone to being abandoned. Jammu and Kashmir is no exception. The woman's case may be just one of the many that has come to lime-light inspiring shock and horror. While there is need to spread awareness and education about taking care of differently abled, the question of inaccessible and affordable health-care to public, especially the poorer sections also needs to be addressed to avoid chances of differently abled people with severe physical, mental or psychological disabilities being thrown out of their homes. With respect to abuse, though a slew of laws like the Domestic Violence Act and the POCSO have come up in the last few decades, the legal justice system is not adequately geared up to show results and support the cause of the survivors of such abuse. The need is not just for stringent laws but for effective implementation of the laws and delivery of justice on the basis of such laws.
One of the most important things that the ugly episode highlights is the absence or inadequacy of shelter homes for the abandoned and abused people. While shocking cases of shelter homes and orphanages, which have become dens of corruption and abuse, abound across the country, Jammu and Kashmir is grappling with both paucity of such shelters and homes as well as their poor quality and management. The government run shelters ae almost missing or are in shambles, if at all they exist. Homes and shelters run by NGOs are also often found inadequate. One evident reason is the non-serious attitude in drafting proper rules and regulations for running such homes and the virtual absence of a monitoring authority with experts on board which should be regularly inspecting the condition and working of the existing homes. An important element of shelter homes is also the disdain with which these are treated by a conservative society and its inmates excluded from the mainstream, raising serious questions about the rights of the inmates and their dignity. There is need for modernized and adequate shelter homes for such people where the scope of shelter is widened to include their psychological counselling and proper emotional as well as financial rehabilitation. This needs not just new plans and projects but also optimum use of existing schemes within Social Welfare Department for both state intervention in shelter homes and facilitation by the state of homes and shelters being opened by NGOs. The government must respond to the needs of the abused, unwanted and abandoned people, especially women, and formulate a proper policy for increasing the number of shelters and homes, well equipped with all modern facilities and health-care while taking care that an effective regulatory authority is in place.



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