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HindustanTimes Tue,21 Oct 2014

Shortage of counsellors for sexual assault victims

Nelam Pandey, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, June 30, 2013
First Published: 21:52 IST(30/6/2013) | Last Updated: 02:25 IST(1/7/2013)
The number of sexual assault and rape cases has seen a spurt in the Capital. But the crisis intervention centres (CIC), which offer counselling and support to these victims, are facing a shortage of staff due to lack of funds.

There has been a 140 per cent increase in the number of sexual assault and rape cases being reported in the city.

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As per a new proposal floated by the Delhi Commission of Women (DCW), they are planning to fund only part-time counsellors. The management of the CICs have criticised the move and said that counselling of victims cannot be an ad-hoc arrangement. They have also written to the DCW to fund at least two full-time counsellors.

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Pratidhi, an NGO, which provides counselling to victims of sexual assault and rape in east Delhi, has shot off a letter to the chairperson of DCW, asking the commission to give salary to at least two counsellors so that they can continue running the programme smoothly.

NGOs claim that counselling is the most crucial aspect of rehabilitation of sexual assault victims and requires a longer association with the victim hence, part-time counsellors will not be able to do justice.

"Due to a high number of referral cases under CIC, our four programme officers (counsellors) are fully engaged in visits to police stations, hospitals, child welfare committees and courts. Since we are not getting any financial support for the programme, it is very difficult to cope with the situation and attend to all the cases and follow them up with concerned agencies," said Raj Mangal Prasad, of NGO Pratidhi.

"After the December 16 gang rape, reporting of sexual abuse cases has registered a manifold increase in east Delhi alone where we have our centre. We have received 106 cases from January to May. This figure used to be between 80 and 90 every year," he added.

As per the DCW's order, all CICs have to apply and agree to the terms and conditions and they will decide whether they can function or not. Earlier it was a voluntary initiative. A number of CICs are finding it difficult to function due to lack of funds and have also decided not to apply due to the new policy of funding only part-time counsellors.

"The huge workload has affected the quality of our centre's service. It will be difficult for us to continue the programme without getting sufficient support from the government," said Yogesh Kumar, programme coordinator of Pratidhi.

BOX

Government's rehabilitation programme:

**A rape victim will be given a maximum of R3 lakh as compensation and a minimum of Rs. 2 lakh within two months of the crime.

** 50,000 will be given immediately while the rest will be put in a fixed deposit for at least three years.

**In case of death, a maximum compensation of Rs. 5 lakh and a minimum of Rs. 3 lakh will be given to the family of the victim.

**Financial assistance to be provided for the trial too.

** Counselling of rape victims is done by counsellors empanelled with Delhi Police, government hospitals, Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights (DCPCR) and the government.


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