KOCHI: The LDF Government’s move to set up an exclusive Department for Woman Affairs is in direct contrast with a gripping social malady - domestic violence and other family issues are increasingly forcing women to take refuge in state-run shelter homes.
According to data available with the Social Justice Department, 1,349 women sought refuge in shelter homes under the Social Welfare Board (SWB) from April, 2015 to March this year. There is, however, an alarming subtext to this. Several women have been abandoned along with their children and the number of such women seeking protection of shelter homes is on the rise.
The SWB had opened exclusive shelter homes for the victims of domestic violence in January 2015. The 16 shelter homes run by various NGOs and groups can house 400 inmates. Of the 1,349 destitute women, Idukki is on top with 172, while Kollam(160) is in second position followed by Kasargod(134), Kannur and Wayanad (125 each).
The victims of domestic violence can approach a shelter home directly or with an intimation letter from the protection officer at the nearest police station or through a local guardian with documents to prove their identity. If the victim is accompanied by her children, the home will given shelter to them too. Food, shelter, medical check-up and legal assistance will be provided to them free of cost for two years. The SWB will take measures to rehabilitate them during that period.
“The SWB has rehabilitated several women, who had approached the shelter homes, and many of them returned to their families after being provided with legal assistance and proper counselling,” said Prasanth, superintendent, Social Justice Department, who is in charge of the shelter homes.
The Department provides Rs 14 lakh to the rescue homes, which is proportionate to the Centre’s yearly allocation for legal aid, counselling and for meeting the other expenses of these institutions.