Mahila mandirams unsafe: Study
Thiruvananthapuram: A study carried out by the Kerala Women’s Commission has questioned the very reason for the existence of mahila mandirams, run by the Social Justice Department, that shelter nearly 300 destitute women.
The study has described the homes as ‘jails’ and observed that most of them lacked adequate rehabilitation facilities.
Each district in the state, except Idukki and Wayanad, has one Mahila Mandiram with a capacity to lodge 25 women. Destitute and orphaned women – widows, divorcees and deserted women – above the age of 18 are admitted to these mandirams.
“The most serious problem faced by the inmates is the lack of rehabilitation measures available to them. None of them are in a position to return to their homes,” the report says. To make these traumatised women financially independent, the study recommends proper vocational training and help in finding suitable placements.
The study found that inmates were unhappy about the lack of facilities in the homes, especially the condition of the rooms and beds.
It was found that 20-odd women were stuffed into cramped rooms devoid of even a semblance of privacy.
New inmates who are brought to the homes after domestic violence or sexual abuse find it hard to come to terms with the behaviour of ‘long-term’ inmates.
The presence of sex workers and those with serious illness compounds the problem, the study notes.
The most damning observation related to the lack of freedom in these homes.
“Most shelter homes are run like jails with strict rules that limit the freedom of movement of the women.
Women are not allowed to go out of the home without permission,” the study states.
These homes, populated mostly by sick women, do not provide prompt medical care either. Shortage of trained staff to man these homes aggravates the miserable conditions prevailing in these homes.