Monday, February 14, 2011

Destitutes get a raw deal

Delhi insensitive to destitute pregnant women

Taking a strong exception to Delhi government's delay in creating shelter homes exclusively for destitute pregnant women who some times deliver on the footpath, the Delhi High Court has asked the Centre to coordinate and thrash out the problem.

The court directed the city authorities to earmark at least two shelter homes equipped with medical facilities to cater to destitute pregnant women. It asked the Joint Secretary of Women and Child Development in the central government to co-ordinate with the state government to sort out the problem.

"We cannot become silent spectator waiting for the government to move at tortoise pace and allow the destitute pregnant women to die on streets of Delhi....," said Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Sanjiv Khanna while expressing anguish over a reported incident in which the woman died after delivering a baby in the central business district of Delhi, in July last year.

The observations came following a report filed by amicus curiae, appointed by the court, who had visited city's few shelter homes, run by NGOs. According to the report, these shelter homes were not keen to provide shelter to destitute pregnant women as they only rehabilitated destitute women. The report said the existing shelter homes did not get any fund from the government and no home had been earmarked by it to take care of destitute pregnant women.

The court has initiated suo-motu action on the basis of media reports that a woman died on the city pavement after giving birth to a child due to lack of medical care on July 26, last year. The woman was found to be lying in a pool of dirty rainwater in Shankar Market in posh Connaught Place area after giving birth to a baby girl. With the intervention of the court, the child is in the custody of an NGO and a woman boutique owner, who had rescued the child, was asked to visit the baby fortnightly.

Earlier, the court had expressed concern over the incident taking place despite various welfare schemes of the government for the poor people. "Central government has framed a bouquet of schemes for the destitute people and their children. How then has this incident happened? Such incident should not occur in a civilized society," the court had said.

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