PUCL Bulletin, Feb., 2001
-- From Insaaf International, 22 Dec. 2000
The declaration of 2001 as the Year of Women's Empowerment by Shri A. B. Vajpayee, the Prime Minister of India has no meaning for 15 years old unnamed girl in Bhatinda who was kept chained by a local welfare club.
Insaaf got an anonymous call yesterday about the plight of this girl kept in a roadside make shift shelter occupied by the local club. The caller reported that the young girl was being sexually abused by Volunteers, a group of four young men of the club, in the guise of giving her a bath and maintaining her personal hygiene, right at that time. The Insaaf team immediately went to the spot but the young men had left.
A middle aged woman also mentally disturbed and one of the three destitute kept there, was hurling abuses after the volunteers and was cursing them for what they had done to the young girl. Insaaf team saw the young girl sitting with her head in the knees and saying "I will eat food". She was chained with an iron chain. She was very docile and just said this one sentence.
Neighbours on the condition of anonymity told Insaaf that this was usual practice. When there were men destitute in that small roadside shelter then only an old man visited them. But whenever some young mentally compromised women are brought there then many young men come to give bath and change clothes and take care of them. They spend hours in the shelter with the door shut. Many times neighbors have heard the women screaming. No female volunteer or worker visit that shelter to help those unfortunate women. Though hundreds of big advertisement boards with great expenses are put up in the city and the club maintains surrounding areas promoting the club as the helper of the helpless but no shelter for the helpless. Presently only three were kept on roadside by the club. The neighbors were scared to come out with their concerns, for fear of repercussions as the District authorities patronize the club.
There is a psychiatric department in the government hospital at Bhatinda but the girl was not sent there for proper care and treatment. Instead she was kept chained by the club on the roadside shelter, which is covered by plastic bags from the sides.
Dr. Vineeta Gupta immediately went to the Assistant Superintendent Police (ASP) whose office is in the police station and just across the road where the young girl was kept chained. Dr. Gupta reported the matter to the ASP and requested the officer to accompany her to verify the facts himself, but he refused. Then Insaaf team met SSP who ordered immediate rescue of the girl.
Photographs of the girl in chain are available.
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