An ailing homeless woman breathed her last on a pavement in front of a shelter home in Uttam Nagar on Tuesday.
Forty-eight-year-old Afroz with a bunch of other homeless women was forced to bear the harsh weather conditions in the open as there is no women shelter home in the area.
The mother of three has been staying on the roadside for nearly five years, said NGOs working for the cause. “Water had accumulated around her lungs for which she was getting treatment at Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital,” said Usha Nischal, founder of Mahilayen Pragati Ki Ore. “Some of the destitutes said she had run away from the hospital and came here last evening.”
The nearest women shelter home is in Dwarka. “Since there is no women shelter home in the area, I had put up a tent shelter for them from January 14 to March 31,” she added.
But Afroz and other women ran out of luck with the onset of summer. “The tent shelter was a temporary arrangement for winter. After I removed the shelter, these women were forced to stay in the open,” she said.
There are only seven women shelter homes across the city. According to NGOs working for the cause, there are over 10,000 homeless women in Delhi. Activists have been demanding women shelter homes for long but in vain. “It’s an open secret that there is a lack of women shelter homes in Delhi. We need more such facilities to cater to such a huge population of homeless women,” said Nischal.
“I have been asking the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board since October to set up women shelter home in the area. Whenever we approach the officials, they don’t say anything and the issue gets delayed,” she added.
Another issue is that single women do not prefer family shelter homes. “There have been cases in the past where such single women had witnessed molestation. So now they don’t take to family shelter homes,” she said.
According to NGOs, there are over a lakh homeless people in th city, but the DUSIB’s survey in 2014 managed to find only over 16,000 homeless people on the streets.
DH News Service