The Mumbai police have no place to safely house the women they rescue from prostitution rackets. The only two shelters in the city are crowded way beyond their capacity to house 100 each.
Allegations of rape and criminal intimidation at the state-run Navjeevan Mahila Vastigruha at Mankhurd, from where 22 women had escaped on Saturday, have made matters worse.
“Each of these shelter homes can accommodate 100 at most. They are currently housing 350 each,” said an officer of the SSB, requesting anonymity. “Unless those at the shelter are handed over to their legal guardians, it will not be possible to conduct any further rescue operation.”
On Wednesday, the Social Service Branch (SSB), rescued nine women from Gulshan Mahal at Nagpada. The building had been turned into a brothel by an organised trafficking gang.
However, the rescued women had to be taken to Boisar as the two shelters in the city are overcrowded. “It is not possible to transport them to a far-off place like Boisar all the time,” the officer added.
“It is becoming a problem to relocate the women because of overcrowding at the two authorised homes,” Deputy Commissioner of Police, Enforcement branch, BG Shekhar said.
The problem is so serious that 70 women, rescued from a brothel at Kamathipura early this month were lodged at the DB Marg police station. In all, 270 women were rescued in the operation, headed by additional CP, south region, Krishna Kumar. The two homes could accommodate 100 each and the others were housed at the DB Marg station.
“The police station, already short-staffed, had diverted 20 of its women constables to look after the group. We don’t have the facilities to house them. The 70 women have to make do with just one toilet,” a source at the DB Marg police station said.
Around 1,350 women were rescued last year. And, 150 of them are still in shelter homes, yet to be reunited with their legal guardians.