Two minor rape survivors from a government rescue home in Kollam district of Kerala have committed suicide. Asha*, (17), of Karunagapally, who had reached the rescue home three months ago and Athira*, (15), of Kilikollur, who had reached one month ago, were found hanging from the staircase near their room on Thursday. Asha* was a class 11 student while Athira* studied in class 10. Suicide notes recovered by police say that they were fed up of life. Police also recovered two diaries in which the girls had written a few things.
Asha* was allegedly raped by her NRI neighbour who had later escaped to Dubai and Athira* was raped by her own father, says an officer from the district child rights commission. He has also said that the children were in depression and the unsuitable environment at the rescue home had also added to their stress.
After registering a suo moto case, the State Child Rights Commission has sought a report from Kollam district administration and city police commissioner Ajitha Beegum.
Government rescue homes have been at the receiving end of criticism with various people alleging that they donâ€™t provide proper support to crime survivors.
Kollam district Congress Committee President Bindu Krishna told The News Minute that these deaths show the failure of rescue homes in Kerala.
â€śNo good environment was provided to these girls in the rescue home. First, they went through the severe trauma of getting raped. In this case, a girl was raped by her own father. After that, they were detached from their families and staying at different place, where no one was there to console or motivate them. In this instance, the superintendent of the home was on leave for 10 days. No other authorities that were responsible had visited the home in months. No proper security or comfort was given to them. There is not even a compound wall behind the rescue home building, where almost 86 girls are staying,â€ť Bindu Krishna alleged.
There was criticism in social media too over the failure of the rescue homes in the state.
â€śWhat are rehabilitation homes? They should be a place where people should be brought back to life. If traumatised people are tortured again, then why do we need such homes. Proper checking and attention are needed on this issue,â€ť psychologist and teenage councillor Kala Shibu wrote in a Facebook post.
She also points out many other incidents where children wanted to somehow escape from such rescue homes because they were not able to stay there any more.
She also mentions an incident where a rape survivor went to the extent of saying in court that the case was fabricated, just because she wanted to escape from the rescue home.
Divya Geeth, another activist, wrote on FB, â€śIn such rescue homes, elder women and minor girls have been put up together. Women, who have done different crimes and girls who are rape survivors are living together. Mentally and physically, these victims are tortured inside these homes. The caretakers donâ€™t even behave lovingly with them. They donâ€™t get any motivation or counselling there. When such issues are brought to the notice of the authorities, they donâ€™t care.â€ť
(* All names changed)