Rape crisis centres need more workers, better infrastructure

Experts ask govt to deploy dedicated teams of doctors, counsellors

The one-stop centres for rape survivors at the state-run hospitals are currently not up to the mark, said experts.

There is an immediate need to train and sensitise the staff at the OSCs to deal with rape survivors. The OSCs need dedicated staff so the existing infrastructure can be better maintained, said experts.

“During a surprise visit to the one-stop centre at Lok Nayak Hospital, it was found that the room was locked. When opened, it was found to be poorly maintained and even the toilet was in dirty condition. The infrastructure was also found to be basic and in urgent need of being addressed.” said Shubra Mendiratta, counsellor and advocate, Delhi Commission for Women (DCW).

“The counselling room and the waiting room was the same which means there is lack of privacy for the victim who will be counselled if she is accompanied by a relative,” added Mendiratta.

“There were no toys for minor rape victims which will help keep a child distracted after a trauma and is a must in such centres. Not only is the infrastructure inadequate, the facilities need to be improved for OSCs so that they serve the purpose for which these were created,” said Mendiratta.

The OSCs are mostly left  locked and key as there is no dedicated staff to run these centres, said doctors.

However, the concept of OSCs is to create a space where a woman who has undergone trauma can be brought for counselling and medical examination promptly when she reaches the hospital.

“An OSC should be run as a full-fledged unit in itself with a dedicated team of doctors and counsellors which is currently missing” Mendiratta said.

The Delhi State Legal Services Authority had recently held brainstorming sessions with stakeholders to identify the loopholes.

“There is a need to streamline the process. An SOP (standard operating procedure) was submitted. The Delhi government is also holding meetings with all the stakeholders to improve the system. There is need to train and sensitise the medical and counselling team which will deal with the survivor.

“Right from the time a survivor is brought to the crisis cell and throughout the proceedings, she should feel comfortable,” said Dharmesh Sharma, member secretary, DLSA

“The police who are also actively involved in the procedures also needs to be sensitised,” added Sharma.

There were suggestions that victims of domestic violence would also be brought to OSCs. However, the government is yet to take a call on it.

“We see around 30-40 rape survivors being brought to the OSC on a monthly basis. Suggestions for a dedicated team of doctors and round-the-clock counsellors have been given to the government.

However, given the current flow of cases, the situation is manageable with the staff available,” said Dr Monika Suri, nodal officer, OSC, Deen Dayal Upadhyay Hospital.

While gynaecologists from the hospital examine the victim, counsellors currently only arrive on call.

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