The Jharkhand government will set up a shelter home to provide free medical aid and adoption assistance for unmarried pregnant women and unwed mothers shunned by their families, officials and activists said on Wednesday.
Miracle India, a Delhi-based NGO has submitted a proposal to the state social welfare department to set up a shelter home for marginalized women who are living without social or economic support.
The NGO which earlier ran a shelter home for destitute women in Simdega district had to close down the shelter as it did not have the approval of the department, said Mandeep Singh, the founder of the Miracle India.
“We had given shelter to more than 40 such women in Simdega. However, a similar shelter for such women with medical and counselling facilities is on the cards in Khunti,” he said. “The department has been positive about the proposal.”
The shelter- on the line of Swadhar Homes run by the union ministry of women and child development-will be the first of its kind in the state, said officials in the state social welfare department.
Mridula Sinha, the former secretary of the state social welfare department who had received the proposal and showed interest in setting up the home, has been replaced by Vinay Kumar Chaubey.
“I have not seen the proposal yet, but will obviously proceed with it if it’s for the welfare of women and children,” said Chaubey. More than 30,000 girls, most of whom are tribal are trafficked from Jharkhand l across the country every year, say antitrafficking activists. A majority of these girls, who are sexually exploited, often become pregnant.
These girls after returning home are usually shunned by their family fearing social stigma of premarital pregnancy. They often commit suicide or abandon their children, say activists.
Due to the lack of awareness, a majority of unmarried couples in rural areas do not use birth control measures. Often the men refuse to take responsibility of the children.
At least seven cases of abandoned infants from Simdega and Gumla district in past one month alone were reported to the Jharkhand Commission for Protection of Child Rights
According to the commission, in past one year, more than 30 infants were abandoned in Ranchi, 15 in Khunti and 3 in Chaibasa. Simdega and Gumla accounted for more than 100 abandoned children in the same period, the commission said.
“In past one year, the total count of abandoned infants in Jharkhand was more than 500,” said commission member Sanjay Mishra.