The rape crisis cells under the Delhi government — already functional in select government hospitals in the city as one-stop centres for women in distress to seek medical and legal help — have now been opened to private companies for managing them and building infrastructure as a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiative. In August last year, Delhi became the first state in the country to start a one-stop rape crisis centre at the Sanjay Gandhi Memorial hospital.
A circular was issued on April 16, directing medical superintendents of hospitals to accept the proposals from companies which meet requirements as CSR initiatives, which will then be vetted by the Health department.
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A senior official in the Health department said the decision was made and guidelines notified after proposals were received from a couple of companies to participate in the area. “After the CSR rules were revised last year by the Central government, we received proposals from two companies because health, social welfare and women and child welfare are areas which have been specially included in the new rules. We felt private companies can help us enhance the services we are given in some ways, so we decided to introduce this as a policy change,” the official said.
Officials said budgetary constraints or logistics “had no role to play” in the state government’s decision. Sources said the government will still proceed with the plan to provide one such centre in central, state or municipal hospitals by this year to ensure all the 11 districts in the capital have one such centre.
Besides providing facilities for medical examination for rape and assault victims, women can seek counseling and legal help at the centres. Sources said private companies can help provide “dedicated ambulances for the centres, which was not possible at a government hospital” and additional nursing and paramedical staff. “It is impossible for the government to give these centres a 24×7 ambulance because of the volume of patients a hospital receives. A private company can help us with this. We have limited staff, private companies can help enhance the staff at these centres and even provide better legal services,” a senior official said.
Sources said in hospitals where construction of the centres had been completed, private companies can also contribute in “improving the look of the centres”. “In hospitals like Lal Bahadur Shastri, Baba Saheb Ambedkar and the municipal corporation’s Hindurao hospital, the companies can even help in their construction,” he said.