A government-funded study to assess one-stop crisis centres in Maharashtra has found that none of them are working on women and child development (WCD) department guidelines, suffers from large number of vacancies and no special training has been provided to officials.
The one-stop crisis centres were launched by department against gender-based violence following a recommendation by the Usha Mehra Commission in 2013. The role of the 24-hour centre is to provide shelter, police desk, legal, medical and counselling services to victims.
Maharashtra ranks among the top three states in crime against women. It recorded 4,189 rape cases (third highest), 6,170 kidnapping and abduction cases of women (second highest) and 11,396 cases where women were assaulted (highest) in 2016, data from National Crime Records Bureau shows.
The study was undertaken by Women’s Studies Centre, ILS Law college, in January and February. Of the 12 centres, 11 in Pune, Ahmednagar, Akola, Alibaug, Amravati, Aurangabad, Nagpur, Nanded, Nashik, Pune and Satara were surveyed.
The report submitted to the State Commission for Women had glaring findings. None of the centres were functional for 24 hours. Except two centres in Alibaug and Satara, all other were running on a temporary basis since a year-and-a-half. No special training has been conducted for these officials, the report stated.
“Most cases are of domestic violence at these centres. In other situations like sexual assault, honour crimes, acid attacks, the police deals directly and does not send the cases to the one-stop crisis centre,” the report said, indicating that the purpose of medico-social counselling was lost for most of the victims. In Pune’s Rajiv Gandhi Hospital’s centre, no case has been registered so far showing lack of coordination between police and the centre. In Alibaug, of the 439 cases, 395 were of domestic violence, but no case of sexual abuse was reported to the centre.
The report criticises the government for high vacancies, most have over 50 per cent vacancy — of the 18 posts in each centre, Aurangabad and Nanded have filled only three, Pune has four, Nashik has nine, and Satara has 10 posts occupied.
The internal report will be shared by the women commission with WCD. An official said the recommendations of training, appointing more officials, and of providing 24X7 assistance have been taken into consideration. In 2017-18, Rs 112.9 crore was sanctioned for the centres, which reduced to 105.1 crore in 2018-19. The state has sanctioned Rs 120 crore for this year, of which Rs 12 crore are for constructing 25 centres.