UNION WOMEN and Child Development (WCD) Minister Smriti Irani inaugurated a specialised one-stop centre at King Edward Memorial (KEM) Hospital on Wednesday. The centre is aimed at providing all-round aid to victims of sexual assault.
“Such centres are needed across India to help women affected by violence. Society and men should ensure that violence against women is stopped,” Irani said at the inauguration. She added that till now, 462 such one-stop centres have been set up among the 728 sanctioned across the country.
The centre, which has come up after a delay of four years, has been named after former KEM nurse Aruna Shanbaug, who spent over 40 years in a vegetative state at the hospital’s ward 4A after being sexually assaulted by a ward boy. She passed away in 2015.
Following the 2012 Delhi gangrape, the concept of one-stop centre was introduced by the Centre in 2014 to provide not just medical, but also legal, social, psychological and financial support to victims of violence, specifically rape.
Each centre will have an administrator, medical staff to conduct tests, a police officer, a counsellor, a legal advisor, IT staff and security and multi-purpose workers to aid the victim. “There will be an assistant who will coordinate with the police for filing of FIR and facilitate recording of statement before the court through video conference, as required under CrPC,” said Idzes Kundan, the state WCD secretary. The state has started such centres in all the 36 districts, she added.
Victims who suffer sexual violence often have to visit multiple officials, starting from a police officer to file a complaint to a doctor at a hospital for medical check-up and forensic examination. Dr Harish Pathak, head of the KEM forensic department, said that with the centre, patients will be handled with an integrated approach. Instead of asking a victim to go from police station and the hospital, all departments will come together to provide services at one place, he added.
The centre will rope in NGOs to help in trauma counselling. A temporary shelter for such victims has also been set up at the hospital. “The aim is to have coordination between various departments to have a water-tight case. In several instances, a victim does not approach the police because she is scared. This centre will help her through the process,” said Pathak.
Hospital Dean Dr Hemant Deshmukh said a dedicated out patient area, examination room and admission ward have been set up for sexual assault victims.