There is only one home for girls in Aurangabad as against seven for boys

There are fewer homes for mentally deficient girls than boys in Maharashtra, according to a report. At a time when concerns of safety for women are being raised, the report on Homes for Mentally Deficient Children (MDC) prepared by a High Court-appointed committee highlighted the need for homes for girls.

The number of such homes for boys is more than double than those for girls, the report by the committee led by Professor Asha Bajpai of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences says.

In Nagpur, there isn’t even one home for MDC girls. There is only one home for girls in Aurangabad compared to seven for boys.

The committee was set up after details of raping and torturing of disabled inmates of Panvel’s Kalyani Mahila and Bal Seva Sanstha came to light in 2010.

This is a State-licensed private shelter for the disabled and destitute. The committee studied 23 of the 29 MDC homes in the State, most of which get government grants.

Few options

“Caring for girls involves more responsibility. It is evident from the proportion of homes for girls that there is a general reluctance to care for girls. In effect, there are very few options for girls in the State. It is obvious that the government too has not taken this fact into account while granting licenses,” says the report.

The report also reveals another surprising fact. Though these homes are meant for children, 37 % of the inmates are adults. In Mumbai, 80% of the persons in the MDC Home are above 18 years of age.

The MDC Home in Mankhurd has even women who are senior citizens. “Once children are sent to a home there is no plan to enable them to leave at 18 and reintegrate into society. No plans are in place to relocate adult inmates to another facility either,” said Ms. Bajpai.

The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act 2000 (amended in 2006) has specified ways in which reintegration and rehabilitation should be attempted. The only home to have taken the initiative to construct separate facilities for those above 18 is Asha Bhavan in Satara. Not only does the presence of older inmates reduce the vacancy in these homes but also poses safety challenges to younger inmates. “A uniform programme cannot be adopted. Their needs are different so they remain isolated and excluded. Even NGOs working with the elderly don’t want to take responsibility,” said panel member and psychiatrist Dr. Harish Shetty.