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Kerala Government Shifts Gear: NGOs Take Charge of ‘Entry Homes for Girls’ Amid Funding Woes

In a significant move, the Kerala government has transferred the management of ‘Entry Homes for Girls’ to NGOs across seven districts, namely Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Idukki, Palakkad, Malappuram, Kozhikode, and Wayanad. This shift comes as a response to the pressing funding shortage threatening the support system for survivors of Pocso cases and trafficking.

Previously under the management of the Kerala Mahila Samakhya Society (KMSS), these homes are now entrusted to seven different NGOs, selected by a technical committee. This marks a departure from the government’s previous sole management approach.

The decision, outlined in an order issued by the Women and Child Development Department (WCDD) director on February 2, reflects the government’s acknowledgment of the need for external support amidst financial constraints. Notably, this is the first instance of such extensive collaboration with NGOs for managing these shelters.

Originally designated as Nirbhaya Homes and later renamed Entry Homes, these facilities were established under the Oommen Chandy government in 2012, primarily to aid the rehabilitation of sexual abuse survivors. While KMSS played a pivotal role in managing these homes, a few NGOs were also involved previously.

However, the current transition to NGO management has raised concerns, particularly regarding the religious affiliations of some selected institutions. Despite the initial requirement for secular organisations, the inclusion of religiously affiliated NGOs has sparked debate.

An activist closely involved with girls’ homes emphasised the core principle of providing security and shelter to survivors, followed by their integration into society. Expressing apprehension about the repercussions, the activist highlighted the vulnerable backgrounds of many survivors, including those from marginalised communities and migrant workers.

Responding to criticisms, Nirbhaya coordinator Sreela Menon clarified that NGO involvement is not unprecedented and assured that the overall control remains with the WCDD. While acknowledging the transition, Menon emphasised the continued commitment to ensuring the welfare of abuse survivors.

With this strategic shift, the Kerala government aims to optimise resources and enhance support systems for survivors, navigating the complexities of funding limitations and evolving social needs.

Vakilsearch experts view the Kerala government’s decision to transfer the management of ‘Entry Homes for Girls’ to NGOs as a significant step in addressing the funding challenges faced by the support system for survivors of Pocso cases and trafficking. While the move towards collaboration with NGOs is seen as a pragmatic response to financial constraints, concerns have been raised about the inclusion of religiously affiliated institutions. Vakilsearch emphasises the importance of ensuring that the selected NGOs adhere to the core principle of providing security and shelter to survivors without any bias. The legal experts emphasise the need for transparent guidelines and monitoring mechanisms to safeguard the rights and well-being of the vulnerable individuals seeking refuge in these homes.

Vakilsearch offers legal services to navigate the intricacies of NGO registration, ensuring compliance with legal standards and safeguarding the rights of survivors. Our team is committed to supporting initiatives that prioritise the welfare of abuse survivors, and we stand ready to assist organisations involved in managing shelters and rehabilitation facilities for vulnerable individuals. Contact Vakilsearch for expert legal guidance in navigating the evolving landscape of social support systems, emphasising accountability and transparency in such critical endeavours.

Akash G Varadaraj