Shillong: The two shelter homes for women in Meghalaya – one in Shillong and the other in Nongstoin – were established in 2018 and the intervening agencies are now looking to play a more pro-active role to aid the distressed women, maximum of whom are victims of domestic and sexual violence. Joy Grace Syiem, programme manager of North East Network (NEN), an NGO that is working in such interventions, said that there is an urgent need to create more shelter homes in every district of the State.
She said, “The malady in the government set up emanates from the fact that Meghalaya is a matrilineal society where the clan itself takes care of any women in distressed”.
“This is not so the case”, stated Syiem while citing the numerous cases that the NEN has encountered in its research. 1,048 cases of violence against women have gone unreported in 7 years as per a report in the one-stop centre in Ganesh Das Hospital. All are related to sexual and domestic violence, Syiem stated.
Ruing that there are no safe spaces for women who are inflicted with such violence in the State, the NEN programme manager even said that some of the women resorted to petty crimes to get arrested, thus ensuring that end up in a police lockup. “We are saying this from the interviews carried out in course of a research”, the NEN programme manager said.
The Chairperson of the Meghalaya State Women Commission Theilin Phanbuh endorsed the NEN findings. She said that the government should provide a proper place and land to any NGOs who can provide the right shelter to women in distress. “I know, this has been a problem and a move in unison can bring things into place”, she stated.
For women in distress, there is a helpline, a one stop centre and a police women cell and it is on this note that the NEN advocates a rethink on government policy – to have more shelter homes with the right infrastructure, qualitative counselling and allied training facilities.
Also read: Meghalaya news