A Refuge of Hope: Women’s Experience of Shelter Homes in South Karnataka

A Research Study on the experiences of women residing in Shelter Homes for Women in South Karnataka was conducted by a group of feminist activists/ social workers and development experts. The executive summary gives an overview of the results gathered and the recommendations being proposed to improve the conditions of these shelter homes and how women can be empowered through these residential facilities and programmes being offered for them.

Safeguarding Women and their Basic Rights
While enshrined in the Indian Constitution that justice and gender equality is seen as a basic human right for all citizens, it is a far cry from reality for Indian women even today. Horrific crimes and violence against women continue and the deep rooted social evils of patriarchy and a skewed gender ideology have not helped in tackling this issue. It has systematically discriminated and oppressed women, particularly those belonging to the Schedule Caste, Schedule Tribe and other vulnerable groups of our society.

Statistics reveal that;

  • The NCRB (National Crime Records Bureau) data has shown a jump of 28% in major crimes in Bengaluru in particular. The state stands 2nd in Dowry-related crimes.
  • Atrocities committed on Dalit women by the dominant caste in Karnataka are common, and they are committed based on gender, caste and poverty status
  • The Devadasi system in particular is almost exclusively oppressive of the Dalit women and girl child.
  • Karnataka has a high incidence of child marriage indicating that 39.3 per cent girls were married before the age of 18 years.
  • Sadly Karnataka registers the highest number of women suicide in India, registering 18 cases every 100000 women, compared to a national rate of 14.7. In Bengaluru city alone, 1,133 women died in murders, suicides and accidents in 1997, 1,248 in 1998, and 618 till mid-July 1999.
  • Widows, women who are witch hunted, single women and mentally ill women face higher chances to be abandoned, while other women develop symptoms of mental illness because they are abandoned.
  • Violence such as moral policing and inter-religious intolerance resulting in VAW (Violence Against Women) is not factored in the crimes record. These crimes were concentrated in Mangalore and Bengaluru.
  • Incidence of violence against women within the confines of the home is steadily and alarmingly increasing. Incest, marital rape, battering and other forms of violence both physical and mental are also on the increase.

Schemes supporting victims of violence

While the government provides different schemes to provide women with social support, there are semi-governmental and private institutions that access such schemes and also have their own support mechanisms to help women who are in need of protection and shelter.