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Railway station turns into refuge for runaway women

Unhappy marriages, alcoholic husbands, torture by in-laws, false promises of jobs and roles in films — the reasons are many, but authorities are in a bind dealing with the fundamental problem of runaway women squatting at Pune railway station.


Live here now: Social activist Harsha Shah (right) found this woman staying at the Pune railway station and informed GRP. Pic/Krunal Gosavi.

In the last five months 12 such cases were reported in comparison to 13 for the whole of 2012. This year, Government Railway Police (GRP) officials have so far successfully traced the antecedents of ten women and handed them over to their respective families. The remaining two were sent to a government-run women’s shelter home.


Home away from home: In a recent case, a social worker informed cops about a 35-year old woman staying on one of the platforms of Pune railway station (above). When approached, the lady refused to divulge details of her family and her reasons for leaving home. Representation Pic.

GRP officials said that in several cases, representatives of the agency’s Social Security Cell doubled as social workers to interact with such women and their families to find amicable solutions to the problem.

In a recent case, a social worker informed cops about a 35-year old woman staying on one of the platforms. When approached, the lady refused to divulge details of her family and her reasons for leaving home.

Speaking to MiD DAY, constable Neela Dhende said, “Harsha Shah, a social worker and chairperson of Railway Pravasi Group spotted the woman. Shah said she decided to intervene when she noticed that the squatter was being accosted by another young woman who appeared to be luring her, promising to provide treatment for her fractured leg.” The social worker feared that this could be a trap of anti-social elements to force the women into flesh trade. So she informed the GRP.

“We verified the address provided by the woman but her family showed no interest in taking her back. So, we have shifted her to the women’s home in Vadgaon Budurk,” Dhende added. Commenting on the issue, deputy railway manager AK Gupta said homeless and beggars have made railway platforms their home and refuse to leave despite the persistence railway staff.

12: No of such women who have turned up at the station in the last 5 months

10: No of women, out of the 12, who’ve been reunited with their families. The other two are at a govt-run shelter home

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