The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Welfare homes for women

The social welfare department, in collaboration with a few voluntary organisations, will set up rehabilitation homes in Calcutta and elsewhere in the districts for women victims of sexual crimes and girls rescued from brothels.

Government officers said on Wednesday that such homes will be set up in the first phase in Calcutta and districts like South 24-Parganas, Murshidabad, Jalpaiguri and Cooch Behar. Later, the other districts will be covered.

“Our objective is to provide shelters to sexually-exploited women deserted by their families due to social stigma attached to them,” a senior officer said.

The plight of women released from government mental asylums is no better. About 60 mentally-deranged women, fully cured after treatment, are still languishing in mental hospitals in Calcutta, Behrampore, Purulia and Toofanganj for the past five years.

Apparently, their family members have refused to take them back and rehabilitate them. Like the social welfare department, the state health directorate, too, has sought assistance from four voluntary organisations — Anjali, Paripurnata, Nabadiganta and Sevak — to help rehabilitate women deserted by their families.

Prabhakar Chatterjee, director of health services, said Anjali has already rehabilitated 20 such women last year. Jaya Dasgupta, social welfare secretary, said the rehabilitation programme for women deserted by their families has already been launched under Centrally-sponsored schemes like Swadhar and Swayamsiddha. Dasgupta said that funds available from the Centre would be spent on setting up the homes, food, clothing for inmates and salary for the staff.

The homes will be run directly by the NGOs to help the women inmates become self-reliant within a year or two. “We have selected four voluntary agencies who are working in the red-light areas to rescue and rehabilitate sexually-exploited women,” Dasgupta said.

Another pilot project, under the Swadhar scheme, has been taken up to combat trafficking in women in Murshidabad, Malda, Cooch Behar and South 24-Parganas.

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