KARACHI – Around 64 women lodged in four government-run Darul Amans (shelter homes) in Sindh are waiting since long for court verdicts to decide their fates, as the right activists claim that these inmates were not being treated well by the staff concerned.
In majority of the cases, the women had to leave their homes due to forced/unhappy marriages and property disputes.
There are 14 such women in the Karachi Darul Aman, 16 in Hyderabad, 17 in Larkana and 17 in Sukkur Darul Aman, an official in the provincial Social Welfare department told PPI.
However, he said the number of such women at these shelter homes kept changing because they were lodged there for a specific period, mostly till the courts decided their cases.
Narrating the plight of these women in the government shelter homes, Ms Nadia Haroon, Programme Coordinator, Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), Karachi, said that despite its tall claims, the government could not make arrangements for permanent rehabilitation of such women, who mostly were the victims of the society.
“The women are kept at Darul Amans and allowed to leave only on the orders of local magistrate. They have to face mental torture at the hands of supervisors of Darul Aman,” she said.
“There is need of transparency and accountability of the government-run shelter homes,” Ms Haroon said, alleging: “(these) innocent women have to follow the orders of supervisors. They have to wash cloths of staff and are not allowed to register complaints against this ill-treatment.”
“Several women have been in Darul Aman for about five years because of unnecessary delay in court proceedings,” the HRCP activist claimed.
She said, “It is the responsibility of the state to provide permanent shelter to those who flee their homes in fear and want to spend life according to their own wishes.”
The HRCP has called upon the government authorities to involve civil society organizations, especially lawyers, in the administration of the shelter homes to ensure permanent rehabilitation of these women.
Ms Haroon said the NGO-run private shelter, PANAH, was working in Karachi under the supervision of advocate Ms Anila Ansari, but it also needed betterment, because it provided shelter to women for only three-month period, while several women needed permanent shelter and job security for their survival.
However, the Social Welfare department official claimed that proper meals, medicines and other facilities were being provided to women inmates at these shelter homes, and they were safe there.