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Report No. 243

18. State's obligation to take care of estranged women in distress

One more important aspect on which attention should be bestowed by the states and Union Territories is providing necessary aid and assistance to the hapless women who having gone to the Police Station with a genuine grievance and in a state of distress do not venture to go back to marital home or even unable to stay with relatives. Either they do not have parents who can take care of or maintain them during the period of trauma or there is reluctance on the part of even close relations to allow her to stay with them without hassles.

The process of reconciliation and compromise may take some time and there is no knowing what will be its outcome. Further, the victim woman in distress would need immediate solace in the form of medical assistance and a temporary abode to stay, apart from proper counseling. In the circumstances in which she is placed, only the State or its instrumentalities can take care of her immediate needs. At present, even in cities, there are no Hostels and Shelter Homes worth mentioning which are catering to the welfare of victimized women.

Even if there are a few, no proper facilities are in place. There are no Crisis Centres attached to Women Police Stations even in major cities (excepting few) which can immediately provide succour and relief to the women in distress. The Commission would therefore like to emphasize the obvious that every Government should treat it as a paramount obligation on their part to cater to the immediate needs of victimized women leaving the matrimonial home and not in a position to stay with their relatives for various reasons.

The women who are worst hit if assistance is not provided are those from the poor and middle class background. The States should consider this problem on a priority basis and initiate necessary steps to alleviate the suffering of women in need of help as a part of the welfare goal ingrained in our Constitution.

Section 498-A of the Indian Penal Code Back

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