ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Women's Work, Stigma, Shelter Homes and the State

The growing number of women trying to run away from state-run shelter homes has led to investigations into the living conditions which have been found to be inhuman. Many women, especially sex workers and those who were working in bars, have been detained for prolonged periods, raising questions about choice, coercion, violence and stigma in women's work.

On 3 December 2012, eight women escaped from a state-run shelter home at Mankhurd in suburban Mumbai. The ninth woman who tried to escape fell down and fractured both her limbs and was caught. This was the third such incident in less than three months. Between September and October 2012, 39 women had escaped; many more had tried to escape in each of these attempts but were caught. Most of these women had been brought to the shelter home after raids in beer bars and brothels (Sadhwani 2012a).

After the second escape attempt on 29 October, the Bombay High Court took suo motu cognisance of a news report in which a woman who had run away from the shelter home complained of poor living conditions at the shelter home and made allegations of rape (Sadhwani 2012b). The crime branch was asked to investigate the allegations. The report of the crime branch, which gave a clean chit to the shelter home, was not accepted by the high court. The court appointed a three-member committee to look into the allegations and the conditions of the shelter home.

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