Gitanjali Nagpal, the homeless, mentally unstable ex-model received psychiatric help; but 2,500 mentally ill women are leading wretched lives on Delhi’s streets, with no one to turn to.
A soon-to-be-published National Commission for Women (NCW) study reveals that one out of every two homeless women suffers from psychiatric problems: 38 per cent from depression, 14 per cent from anxiety disorders. Only 8 per cent have received help.
The study was conducted by the Institute of Human Behaviour and Allied Sciences (IHBAS) and NGO Aashray Adhikar Abhiyan (AAA) for NCW. Says Dr Nimesh Desai, head of the IHBAS psychiatry department, “We found that sexual abuse of these women is a rule rather than the exception. Many homeless women suffer from severe mental illnesses like schizophrenia.”
Like Gitanjali, many of these women come from affluent backgrounds. “Homeless women we have worked with include a fashion designer from Paris and a Miranda College graduate,” says Paramjeet Kaur, director, AAA.
A shocking 96.7 per cent of the 4,192 women studied reported harassment — 94.4 per cent at the hands of local enforcement officials and law-keepers; 57 per cent live on the streets of south and central Delhi. The majority were between 16 and 30 years of age. Says NCW member Yasmeen Abrar, “The government should formulate schemes to help them.”