When shelter homes turn into horror homes

When shelter homes turn into horror homes

They were supposed to be a place where women in distress could live a life of dignity, can rehabilitate themselves economically and emotionally, but instead shelter homes for women are turning out to be brothels. A social audit by a Mumbai-based Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) brought to light the sexual abuse of 34 girls at government-run shelter home for girls in Muzaffarpur, Bihar. It was followed by another case in Deoria in UP where a 10-year-old girl escaped a shelter home and exposed the exploitation of the girls who lived there. These incidences have left the country startled, but sadly aren’t new.
Acts of horror

May 2018 | Muzaffarpur, Bihar
First FIR filed for rape and sexual assault of minor girls in the shelter home. So far, it has been confirmed that 34 girls between 7 and 17 years of age were raped

August 2018 | Deoria, UP
24 girls rescued from a shelter home after allegations of their sexual exploitation came to light; 18 girls are still missing

August 2018 | Pratapgarh, UP
26 women reported missing from two shelter homes

May 2017 | Guwahati, Assam
Alleged complaint regarding physical abuse, child labour at Children Home Fatasil, Ambari

May 2017 | Delhi
Alleged complaint regarding girl being forced to abort at Nirmal Chaya and beaten mercilessly


Shelter homes in India are run under the Swadhar Greh scheme – an amalgamation of Short Stay Home scheme and Swadhar scheme, set up by department of social welfare and department of women and development, respectively in 1969 and 2001.

Who can take shelter under Swadhar Greh scheme
Women deserted and without any social and economic support

Women survivors of natural disasters rendered homeless

Women prisoners released from jail and without family, social and economic support

Women victims of domestic violence, family tension or discord

Trafficked women/girls rescued from brothels or places of exploitation

Women affected by HIV/AIDS with no social or economic support

Period of stay

Women affected by domestic violence: 1 yr
Other categories: Up to 3 yrs
Above 55: Maximum period of 5 yrs

Also, girls up to the age of 18 years and boys up to the age of 8 years are allowed to stay with their mother Swadhar Greh.

551 shelter homes in the country
India has a total of 551 shelter homes under Swadhar Greh scheme. Maharashtra has most number of shelter homes, followed by Odisha and UP.

States with the most shelter homes (1)

As per Juvenile Justice Act 2015 registration of all children homes with state is mandatory. After the Muzaffarpur and Deoria incidents, the Women and Child Development Ministry (WCD) has stepped up action and asked all states to verify homes and ordered a verification of all homes in states. But this is an ongoing process.


States with the most shelter homes2 (1)

(Data available with NCPCR as of August 8, 2018)

The move aims to check the misuse of government grants for shelter homes and bring more in more accountability. But the task is huge and one that needs sensitization and therein lies the challenge.

Source: News reports

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