The Delhi government will open exclusive shelters for girls who face sexual assault by their family members.
The move comes as majority of victims of sexual assault do not register complaints fearing reprisals from family members. Police statistics have shown that as much as 50 per cent of the sexual crimes against women are perpetrated by those known to them.
The move underlines an almost exponential rise in the number of cases of rape and molestation in the Capital. Though there are 15 open shelters for homeless boys, there is none to caters exclusively to girls.
According to the officials, girls will not only be provided safe shelter but also food at the 'open shelters'.
The department of women and child development had surveyed a number of areas. Those highly vulnerable for minors have been selected as the prospective sites. These include east Delhi's Gandhi Nagar, Seemapuri, Seelampur, Farsh Bazar, Khajuri Khas among others.
"To begin with, 10 open shelters will be made functional but the number can go up depending on the requirement," said a senior Delhi government official.
The department has written to a number of NGOs, working for the welfare of children, asking them to manage these shelters.
While night shelters for adults are functional in the city, girls prefer to stay away from these shelters fearing physical abuse. There are a total of 150 night shelters in the city that can accommodate at least 14,000 people. These night shelters remain operational throughout the year.
"So far, we have set up 15 open shelters where boys below the age of 18 are accommodated throughout the day. But girls are not allowed in these shelters and we fear that in the absence of such safe places, they seek shelters on footpaths and other such places. This makes them further vulnerable to abuse. A proposal was made to create a shelter only for girls and it has finally been cleared," said a senior government official.
According to the officials, volunteers will soon be assigned who will inform girls about the open shelters.