Mumbai: For want of sufficient awareness, the 24x7 One Stop Centre at the King Edward Memorial (KEM) Hospital has only been able to tend to 23 people so far, including the survivors of rape, domestic violence and sexual abuse, since it became operational on November 15. It was inaugurated by the Union women and child development minister, Smriti Irani, in September.
It is named after former KEM nurse Aruna Shanbaug, who spent over 40 years in a vegetative state in the hospital’s ward 4A after being sexually assaulted by a ward boy and passed away in 2015. She was nursed with great devotion by the hospital staff for decades.
The main aim of the centre is to offer medical and police assistance, psychosocial support, legal aid, counselling and shelter for women who have been subjected to violence, under one roof. Their salaries will be paid from the Nirbhaya Fund by the Union government.
The centre is a collaboration between the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation and the ministry of women and child development. Evidence collection will be carried out by a team of forensic experts and gynaecologists from KEM Hospital.
Built at a cost of Rs 1 crore, the centre has a soundproof counselling room and a video-conferencing facility so that the victim does not have to go to court. “The first contact of the victim will be a qualified counsellor. A nurse will then comfort the victim and summon the forensic expert, gynaecologist and psychiatrist for an overall examination. Police will also carry out their procedure at the centre,” the official said.
Currently, people are not aware of its existence. “As it has just become operational, people are not aware about it. The centre has a multidisciplinary approach and will function in a survivor-centric manner. Instead of making them run from one place to another, all assistance will be offered here,” said a health official.
“There is also a short-stay facility and a pantry, if the victim wants to stay for a few days,” he added.
Dr Hemant Deshmukh, dean, KEM hospital, said “We are trying our best to reach as many people possible and provide them with the necessary help.”
According to data from the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), in 2017, Mumbai ranked second in terms of crime against women, after New Delhi. So far, 287 rapes, 1,713 molestations and many domestic violence cases have been reported in the city.