The All India Democratic Women’s Association has pointed alongside media reports about the rampant misinformation, degraded health facilities and obtrusive POCSO( Protection of Children from Sexual Offences) violations.
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By Maham Abbasi, Copy Edited by Adam Rizvi, TIO: New Delhi: AIDWA, the women’s wing of the Communist Party of India (CPI), on Wednesday submitted a memorandum to the National Human Rights Commission chairperson over the situation prevailing in the Kanpur girls shelter home run by the UP government where 57 girls tested positive for COVID-19, seven pregnant, all of them infected with HIV and Hepatitis C, although now proved to be negative.
The memorandum records of the notice issued suo motu by NHRC to Uttar Pradesh DGP and chief secretary regarding the carelessness for children’s health and absolute disregard for their wellbeing at the Rajkiya Bal Sanrakshan Griha in Kanpur.
It was submitted by Subhashini Ali, the AIDWA vice-president, Neelam Tiwari, Kanpur District Committee president and the district committee’s secretary Sudha Singh.
A press release issued by AIDWA, in this case, notes that members met with the senior superintendent of police Dinesh Kumar. The members requested a serious investigation into this space where girls are taken care off, with special attention to ensure that evidence was not tampered with by the management. The association also met the Commissioner of the Kanpur Division, Dr Sudhir M. Bobde, whom they asked to verify whether the pregnant girls had been made aware that they had the legal right to demand an abortion. They also asked him to intervene and check if the girls had been receiving regular check-ups. The AIDWA said prima facie focusing on all the measures needed to make the State Rescue Home a safe and comfortable shelter, that the present administration and the district probation officer cannot be excused of charges of dereliction of duty if not worse.
There are several issues, said the members, about the matter, which show the “extreme neglect of the state government.”
A major problem noted is the extreme over-crowded nature of the shelter where it is supposed to accommodate about 100 minors but there are at least 171. There are only 9 toilets. The women’s group pointed out that in such a situation, where the sanitary conditions leave much to be desired, it is not surprising that the virus spread in the way that it did.
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There are also many young and mentally-challenged minors lodged here, some of whom have been rape victims and delivered babies, unable to look after themselves. Shockingly, these mentally challenged pregnant minors were not helped to access abortions. “What is going to be the fate of their children and the mothers is beyond our imagination”, the women’s group said.
The group questioned the Home Administration for not revealing important facts about the girls and their subsequent reports of screening tests on HIV and Hepatitis C, point being that “the administration of the home was not able to give any information regarding the health status of the pregnant girls which is strange since they should have been examined by a gynaecologist every month.”
“We hope that you will do all that is needed to see that the very unfortunate inmates of this Rescue Home are rendered justice and that their right to health, education and a safe environment are ensured,” AIDWA said in the memorandum to the NHRC.
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Women are adversely affected by the pandemic in more ways than ever. Evidence from a WHO-led study last year, published in the Lancet, showed that more than one-third of women experienced mistreatment during childbirth in health and care facilities. Younger, less-educated women were found to be the most at risk of mistreatment, which can include physical and verbal abuse, stigmatization and discrimination, medical procedures conducted without their consent, use of force during procedures, and abandonment or neglect by health care workers. Time and again researchers and investigative studies have proved how women suffer in their ‘safe havens’ at places where they are supposed to feel safe, between people who are supposedly around to ‘protect them’ and mostly at hospitals and shelter homes where they are admitted for medical attention and safekeeping. With the growing number of Coronavirus cases in the country that accounts women as half of its population, it is a very crucial time for the government and authorities to intervene all the healthcare centres regularly and ensure a proper, safe and healthy environment for everyone, young girls especially.
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