One stop centres, which provide support services to survivors of gender violence, need to be revamped
The one stop crisis centres have a short-term goal of providing emergency relief. However, complainants often come back to the OSCs even after a case has been settled. There has to be some institutional mechanism to stay involved with such womenanalysis Updated: Feb 25, 2018 16:50 IST
One of the key components of the Nirbhaya Fund, which was set up after the 2012 gang rape of a paramedic in Delhi, was the establishment of one stop centres (OSC) in the states. The mandate of the OSCs was to provide support services for survivors of gender violence. Chhattisgarh deserves special mention here because it was the first state in India to have OSCs in all its 27 districts. Though the scope of the scheme is limited to cases pertaining to domestic violence, rape, sexual harassment, acid attack, trafficking, child marriage, kidnapping, cyber crime and dowry harassment, our OSCs don’t deny assistance to women in distress due to financial frauds, pension problems or property disputes.
But our experience suggests that the OSCs need more teeth to make them more effective. At present, each centre can shelter five victims, irrespective of the size and demography of a district. The capacity of these shelters must be increased, based on the population and the crime-against-women index of a district.
Second, case workers and multi-purpose staff work in three shifts but any shortfall of personnel puts extra work load on the remaining staff. Therefore, OSCs need better bench strength. Similarly, the staff strength should also be decided according to the average number of cases dealt by each OSCs.
Third, it is legally mandatory to keep the identity of a victim a secret. At present, if an official wants to access information about a particular case, she will have to generate a one-time password (OTP) to log in to the system to avoid any breach. But this is not enough: there must be enhanced cyber security measures such a ‘captcha’ (a computer programme or system intended to distinguish human from machine input) on the login page, and a periodic ‘patching’ of servers and application, and an account lock feature.
Fourth, the scheme has a short-term goal of providing immediate and emergency relief. However, complainants often come back to the OSCs even after a case has been settled. There has to be some institutional mechanism to stay involved with such women.
Fifth, these OSCs need skilled IT staff and case workers, and there must be reskilling of existing staff.
Last, though these OSCs are doing a commendable job and are empowering women to demand redress as a matter of their right, a regular half-yearly review of the functioning of the OSCs could make them more effective.
RK Vij is a senior IPS officer in Chhattisgarh
The views expressed are personal