Sakhi - One stop solution for women in distress

Sakhi - One stop solution for women in distress

In spite of the State and Central governments launching slew of measures to curtail violence against women, some unsavoury and horrific incidents like...

In spite of the State and Central governments launching slew of measures to curtail violence against women, some unsavoury and horrific incidents like Disha and Priyanka gangrape-murder cases continue to take place unabated.

Women helpline toll free number 181, Dial 100, Police Department's mobile app 'Hawkeye' and Central government's One Stop Centre (OSC) or Sakhi scheme are some of the initiatives to support and provide immediate help for women in distress,

In the recent past, Viziendera Boyi, director,

State Women Development and Child Welfare (WD&CW) Department, has taken up slew of measures including holding several campaigns to create awareness on women safety and protection.

The Central Women Development and Child Welfare (WD&CW) department's One Stop Centre (OSC) or Sakhi scheme supports women of all ages affected by violence, both in private and public spaces.

It facilitates access to integrated police assistance, psychosocial counseling, legal counseling/legal aid and temporary shelter under one roof 24/7.

The context for inception of OSC/Sakhi scheme is the brutal gangrape of 23-year-old Nirbhaya in Delhi on December 16, 2012.

The incident was followed by public outrage across the nation and demand by the women's movement and civil society organisations for greater accountability of the state in response to crimes against women.

The Central government constituted Usha Mehra Commission to inquire Nirbhaya gangrape and come out with recommendations for women's safety.

The committee recommended for establishing OSCs at notified hospitals to help victims of sexual assault with 24/7 women helpline and ensure speedy punishment to the accused.

Accordingly, a 'Nirbhaya Fund' was established by the Ministry of Finance with a corpus of Rs 1,000 cr in financial year 2013-14.

In continuation to this, the Ministry of Women and Child Development formulated a centrally sponsored scheme Sakhi One Stop Centres and implemented across the country in a phased manner from 2015.

At present, 540 Sakhi Centres are operational in all the states across the nation.

Sakhi scheme in TS

With the formation of Telangana State in 2014, the Government of Telangana constituted a high level committee to give recommendations to enhance safety and security of women.

The Committee recommended to initiate toll free helpline for women, 24/7 One Stop Centres, appointing Mahila Rakshaks for preventing sexual harassment and assault at public places, establishing fast track courts for women, more forensic and DNA labs and She –Taxis were some of the recommendations put forward by the high level committee. The government also created special budgetary provision for safety and security of women.

In Telangana the WD&CW sought to implement the Sakhi One Stop Centre Scheme more systematically. A Project Management Unit was set up in the department in partnership with Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Hyderabad Campus as the knowledge partner and NGOs in the state as support agencies for effective functioning of Sakhi Centres at district level.

Staff structure at the centre:

Sakhi Centres are managed by 14 professional staff comprising a centre administrator, psycho-social counselors (2), case workers (2), para-medical workers (2), legal counselor, data analyst, finance and admin assistant, multi-purpose helpers (2) and security guards (2).

Rescue van and welcome kit

The Sakhi Centres are integrated with a women helpline number and a 24/7 rescue/emergency vehicle. Any woman in crisis situation can call Helpline 181 and through rescue van the woman/girl would be brought to the Sakhi Centre, and would be given shelter, if required and a welcome kit comprising all toiletries and essential requirements.

Training to staff:

An orientation and training workshop for Sakhi staff would be conducted by TISS in a phased manner covering various topics and evolution of Sakhi Centres, roles and responsibilities and reporting system to the staff, Women's movement in India and gender-based violence, key concepts of gender, patriarchy, inter-sectionality and violence, forms and consequences of violence and health sector response, gender sensitive counseling, skills, principles, and values, laws related to gender based violence, team building and self care.

Appraisal & information management

Sakhi Centres functioning would be monitored by PMU team at the state level. Sakhi Centres have Management Information System (MIS) and cases are registered through online with system generated unique ID for each case. Monthly Progress Report, quarterly reports are prepared and send to both state and central governments.

Outreach activities

Sakhi Centres are doing outreach activities in collaboration with line departments of health, police and legal services authority.

It is not only to create awareness regarding the services of One Stop Centres but also to highlight that violence in any form is non-negotiable, that women should speak up against violence and avail the services of Sakhi and also refer these services for whomsoever it is required.

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