After the National Commission of Women (NCW) found women’s shelter homes violating central government’s terms and conditions, UP government has written a letter to the Centre asking to clarify its terms of admission and exit of women lodged in Swadhar Grehs – shelter homes for women in distress. A senior official of the state women and child development department states that while the existing guidelines clearly dictate the rules for admission of women in shelter homes, the rules are open and accommodative of women of all categories.

This move from the UP government comes as a precursor as the Centre may revise its guidelines soon.

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“We have sent our suggestions regarding the Swadhar Greh scheme. The main focus is on clarity regarding the entry and exit related rules so that more and more beneficiaries could be helped. Existing guidelines were not very clear about the admission rules,” the official explained, HT reported.

Currently, the shelter homes in the state have category-wise rules for women’s entry and exit from Swadhar Grehs which it is not in favour of generalising. “A woman in distress can stay for three years, and then she will be shifted to another home. But all of them are not facing the same situation,” the official added.

In December last year, NCW did a survey of 26 Swadhar Grehs randomly out of which five were from UP and it found that 25 of them grossly violated Centre’s guidelines. Apart from the five from UP, it inspected five Swadhar Grehs in West Bengal, eight in Odisha, eight in Karnataka. In Up, the inquiry committee formed by the NCW audited Swadhar Grehs in four districts, including Allahabad, Mirzapur, Bhadohi and Varanasi.

“In certain cases, the Swadhar Grehs are not existing in the address mentioned in the authenticated list from the Women and Child Development with that of the State Government. It is necessary to initiate action in correcting the anomalies in the lists of Swadhar Grehs uploaded in the website by different agencies of the government,” the report noted, Business Standard reported.

“In the Swadhar Grehs we inspected, some of the inmates were not real beneficiaries. They were working women and self-dependent. There should be a difference between a working women’s hostel and a shelter home for women in distress,” said one of the officials from the committee reviewing in the shelter homes.

“Girls below 18 years, women who are over 60 years and mentally challenged women are all kept together. There were no separate facilities for them,” NCW chairperson Rekha Sharma said, Deccan Herald reported.

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UP accounts for 15.85 per cent of the total number of women living in shelter homes across the country which means that the state has 2741 women beneficiaries registered in its Swadhar Grehs.

“We have sent our suggestions regarding the Swadhar Greh scheme. The main focus is on clarity regarding the entry and exit related rules so that more and more beneficiaries could be helped. Existing guidelines were not very clear about the admission rules”

The central government launched the Swadhar Greh initiative in 2016 by bringing together its two previous initiatives – ‘Swadhar’ and ‘Short Stay Homes’ together. The scheme focuses on women living in difficult circumstances without social and economic support like abandoned women and women survivors of a natural disaster who have been rendered homeless, trafficked women or girls, women victims of terrorist violence, mentally challenged women or girls who are without support and women with HIV/AIDS deserted by their family.

Picture credit: DNA India

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