DCW sends notice to NGO and Delhi Police for failings at overnight shelter for homeless women with mental health issues

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The Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) has issued notices to the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB) and the Delhi Police after serious shortcomings were found at the NGO-run overnight shelter for mentally disabled women ‘Ashray Adhikar Abhiyan’ in the Sabzi Mandi region.

DCW President Swati Maliwal and members of the Commission visited the shelter where they found many problems.

The Commission found that there are nine women with mental illness living in the shelter for whom no effort is made by the shelter for their rehabilitation. Many of these women have been living in the shelter since 2014.

It was also found that proper records were not kept and there were no official file notes or records in any of the files. It was also found that no action had been taken to trigger police action in the residents’ cases.

The panel also said proper health records of inmates were not kept even though all were prescribed medication by the Institute of Human Behavior and Allied Sciences (IHBAS).

The commission also observed that the shelter was run by untrained staff and there were no SOPs to deal with women and any emergencies that arose at any time. He also found that the facility had no guards during the day.

When the Commission entered the shelter at 6 p.m., there was no one at the door and no register or visitor log was kept.

The commission also noted a lack of training or recreational activities for residents who remained indoors throughout the day.

A former staff member at the shelter also told DCW that she and a 25-year-old resident of the shelter were raped by two men. Delhi Police have registered an FIR in the matter and are investigating the allegations. However, no arrests have been made so far, the staff member said.

The commission sent an opinion to the DUSIB requesting a detailed action report on its observations.

The commission asked the DUSIB to provide a file containing the decisions by virtue of which this reception center for people with mental disabilities was created, as well as the POS. He asked for copies of the reports of inspections carried out by DUSIB officials of this shelter.

He also asked for details of the action taken against the officials and the NGO in this case.

The commission has also issued a notice to the Delhi Police asking for urgent arrests in the case as well as protection for survivors. Authorities had until 4 p.m. on March 28 to submit responses.

Swati Maliwal said, “This sad condition of homeless women with mental health issues is completely unacceptable. It is necessary to correct the responsibility for these failures and it is imperative to put in place a better system at the earliest. I have sent notices to DUSIB and Delhi Police about this and requested Delhi Police to ensure proper investigation and immediate arrest in this matter.

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