With no security, two women escaped early last week and a batch of 17 on Sunday night, officers confirmed.
The home is one of the most-neglected state-run institutions where seven staff members look after over 240 rescued women.
This is the first escape from the protective home after 2004, when 141 inmates had run away in broad daylight.
The Indian Express had reported the pathetic condition of Navjeevan Mahila Vastigruh on August 26. It had highlighted that the home was facing a serious staff crunch and how its meagre budget remained unutilised.
The superintendent of the home has written over a dozen letters to Mumbai Police and the state government seeking intervention to secure the place. However, none of his letters has received a reply.
Navjeevan Mahila Vastigruh, which shifted to a new premises in March, is meant to shelter rescued women and children. According to the manual, the home should have 22 employees, including doctors and caretakers. But for the past three years, sources said, it has had only an eight-member staff that struggles to keep even normal work going.
Superintendent Tushar Latne had also raised the issue of threat to the women. “They are very vulnerable as most have been victims of organised crime syndicates,” he wrote.
Soon after the women escaped, police were informed. A report was also sent to the special magistrate court dealing with cases registered under Prevention of Immoral Trafficking Act.
“However, no action was initiated by the state government. The second batch of women realised it was way too easy and they too made good their escaped,” said an officer at the home.
ACP (East Region) Quaiser Khalid said the police were verifying the information given by the superintendent.
“We are examining each case. We are checking if these women went back home or to the brothels from where they were rescued. No legal action has been initiated against them.”
He, however, did not explain why security was not made available soon after the initial escape of two women. “I will not be the right person to comment on this.”
Security concerns were also raised by the Justice Chandrashekhar Dharamdhikari committee set up by the state government to study the issue of violence against women.
The government accepted the committee’s recommendations, but did not act.