A blame game has surfaced between the child welfare committee (CWC) and inmates of a woman’s shelter home at Nehru Nagar in Bhopal after a 16-year-old rape victim staying at the home died on Friday.
The girl’s postmortem report has revealed that she had pneumonia which doctor Neelima Gupta, who regularly visits the home for a check-up of the inmates, apparently failed to diagnose. Shelter home authorities say she died due to injuries she had sustained after falling off a bed on November 6.
Shelter home inmates jostle for space and bare minimum facilities
The death has prompted rest of the 95 inmates, who jostle for space and bare minimum facilities inside four rooms with five bathrooms and five toilets, complain about infections to the CWC. Three inmates are still admitted at JP Hospital. About 60 inmates suffer from skin infection and UTI (urinary tract infection).
A team of juvenile justice board and the district court visited the home on Wednesday. A team of doctors from JP Hospital also visited the home for health check up.
Most of the space inside the four rooms is occupied with beds. After morning showers, the bathrooms are locked by staff members. Food is cooked by the inmates.
“We are asked to do all kinds of work. Food quality is very poor. The doctor limits herself to inquiring if we are suffering from fever as there are only antibiotics for fever, cough and cold in store for our treatment.
An activist alleged that the child development department and CWC are to blame beside the home staff. “Earlier, it came to light that mentally unstable girls were lodged in the store room,” said a child right activist.
‘Hostel lacks proper beddings, health check-ups, healthy food & hygiene’
Action aide coordinator Shivani Seni said, “ The hostel lacks proper beddings, health check-ups, healthy food and hygiene in washrooms. It raises doubt as to how the staff members were unaware of the girl’s illness. They are responsible for it, not CWC.”
Child welfare committee member Rekha Shridhar said, “The committee doesn’t have any doctor with it. Before the death, no inmate had shared anything with us. I’m surprised that the doctor didn’t know that the victim had pneumonia. Moreover, we have come to know now that about 60 inmates are suffering from infections,” she said.
‘Food quality and infrastructure is suffering’
“Food quality and infrastructure is suffering due to fund crunch. There is staff shortage, too. But we take care of health of the girls properly,” added Shridhar.
Dr Neelima Gupta said she had referred the inmate to JP Hospital. “I’m just an MBBS doctor. I take care of minor ailments like cough and cold. I was not aware of her condition. I agree that many girls are suffering from skin infection because it is a communicable disease. Few are suffering from gynaecological problems but we are providing them proper treatment now,” said Dr Gupta.
‘There is an urgent need of inspection of all the homes of MP’
Child right activist Prashant Dubey said, “There is an urgent need of inspection of all the homes of MP because it’s a matter of concern of health of hundreds of girls in shelter homes of Bhopal.”
Women and child development department principal secretary JN Kansotiya said, “I don’t think there is any need of inspection or audit of all the homes. We’ll take action after getting complaints.”