In 2007 female police officers carried a woman into WIN’s centre and dumped her on the floor. They said nothing of who she was and from where they had found her.
The anonymous woman in her mid thirties sat in a heap. She was covered in bruises and unable to talk. We called her Sunita and for two years she didn’t speak a single word. Sunita was unable to care for herself; soiling her clothing and needing encouragement to eat.
WIN’s psychiatrist had exausted treatment options and we resiged ourselves to Sunita remaining as she was. Then one miraculous day 2 years later, Sunita began to talk. First illegible mutterings and then slowing she began to form words. After a few months she told us that her name was Saroj Kaire and that she was from Chandrapur. Saroj was befriended by other rescued women in our shelter, especially a young woman called Rani, who took care of her. Over the years Saroj enjoyed life but there was still the unresolved mystery of where she was from. Whenever the subject was brought up though, she would avoid talking about it.
In August this year Saroj managed to recal her father’s name and that he was a policeman. Contacting the police in Chandrapur they traced her family who filled us in on the missing details of her past. Saroj had developed mental health problems as a teenager and despite her father’s efforts in seeking treatment for his daughter she was unable to take care of herself. One of his sons (Saroj’s younger brother) also suffered from a similar disorder.
Saroj’s father idolised and took care of his daughter, but in 2003 when he died from cancer, Saroj’s mental health deteriorated and the family struggled to contend with her erratic symptoms. Out of desperation Saroj’s elder brother took her to a temple where it was reputed that people with mental health problems could be cured. It is a common belief in India that psychiatric problems are the result of a curse and staying in a holy place will cure the symptoms. Saroj was left there and when the family returned to visit she’d vanished. On October 12th WIN’s staff accompanied Saroj on the 3 hour journey to Chandrapur to be reunited with her family. Her mother, three sisters and two brothers were anxiously waiting outside their home on our arrival.
Tears and cries of joy welcomed Saroj and she bent down to touch her mothers feet, a symbol of respect in India.
Women in Need is dedicated to rescuing and rehabilitating abused, neglected and ignored women. We are committed and determined to achieveing positive results, even if it takes 10 years to do so.