Gender Based Violence (GBV) is a global health, human rights and development issue that transcends geography, class, culture, age, race and religion to affect every community and country in every corner of the world. The Article 1 of UN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence 1993 provides a definition of gender - based abuse, calling it "any act of gender - based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life”.
In India, gender based violence has many manifestations; from the more universally prevalent forms of domestic and sexual violence including rape, to harmful practices such as, dowry, honour killings, acid attacks, witch - hunting, sexual harassment, child sexual abuse, trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation, child marriage, sex selective abortion, sati etc.
Ministry of Women and Child Development (MWCD), has formulated a Centrally Sponsored Scheme for setting up One Stop Centre, a sub - scheme of Umbrella Scheme for National Mission for Empowerment of women including Indira Gandhi Mattritav Sahyaog Yojana. Popularly known as Sakhi, the scheme is being implemented since 1st April 2015. These Centres are being established across the country to provide integrated support and assistance under one roof to women affected by violence, both in private and public spaces in phased manner.
One Stop Centres (OSC) are intended to support women affected by violence, in private and public spaces, within the family, community and at the workplace. Women facing physical, sexual, emotional, psychological and economic abuse, irrespective of age, class, caste, education status, marital status, race and culture will be facilitated with support and redressal. Aggrieved women facing any kind of violence due to attempted sexual harassment, sexual assault, domestic violence, trafficking, honour related crimes, acid attacks or witch-hunting who have reached out or been referred to the OSC will be provided with specialized services.
The objectives of the Scheme are:
- To provide integrated support and assistance to women affected by violence, both in private and public spaces under one roof.
- To facilitate immediate, emergency and non - emergency access to a range of services including medical, legal, psychological and counselling support under one roof to fight against any forms of violence against women.
The OSC will support all women including girls below 18 years of age affected by violence, irrespective of caste, class, religion, region, sexual orientation or marital status.
Services offered in OSCs
The Centres will be integrated with a Women Helpline to facilitate access to following services.
- Emergency Response and Rescue Services - OSC will provide rescue and referral services to the women affected by violence . For this, linkages will be developed with existing mechanisms such as National Health Mission (NHM ), 108 service, police (PCR Van) so that the woman affected by violence can either be rescued from the location and referred to the nearest medical facility (Public/ Private) or shelter home.
- Medical assistance - Women affected by violence would be referred to the nearest Hospital for medical aid/examination which would be undertaken as per the guidelines and protocols developed by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
- Assistance to women in lodging FIR /NCR/DIR
- Psycho - social support/ counselling - A skilled counsellor providing psycho - social counselling services would be available on call. This c ounselling process will give women confidence and support to address violence or to seek justice for the violence perpetuated. Counsellors shall follow a prescribed code of ethics, guidelines and protocols in providing counselling services.
- Legal aid and counselling - To facilitate access to justice for women affected by violence, legal aid and counselling would be provided at OSC through empanelled Lawyers or National/ State/District Legal Service Authority. The aggrieved woman would be provided with an advocate of her choice in case she wants to engage the same to assist the State Prosecutors in trying her case. It would be the responsibility of the Lawyer /Prosecutor to simplify legal procedures for the aggrieved woman and advocate for her exemption from court hearings. In case the trial or inquiry relates to an offence of rape as defined under section 376, 376A - D IPC, it would be the duty of the Prosecutors trying the case to complete the inquiry or trial as far as possible within a period of two months from the date of filing of charge sheet.
- Shelter - The OSC will provide temporary shelter facility to aggrieved women. For long term shelter requirements, arrangements will be made with Swadhar Greh/Short Stay Homes (managed/affiliated with government/NGO). Women affected by violence along with their children (girls of all ages and boys up till 8 years of age) can avail temporary shelter at the OSC for a maximum period of 5 days. The admissibility of any woman to the temporary shelter would be at the discretion of Centre Administrator.
- Video Conferencing Facility - To facilitate speedy and hassle free police and court proceedings the OSC will provide video conferencing facility (through Skype, Google Conferencing etc.). Through this facility if the aggrieved woman wants, she can record her statement for police/ courts from OSC itself using audio - video electronic means as prescribed under sections 161(3), 164(1) and 275(1) of the Code of Criminal Procedure and section 231(1) in line with Order XVIII Rule 4 of the Code of Civil Procedure. This facility will be provided only after consultation among Superintendent of Police, District and Sessions Judge of the concerned district (place of incident).
Accessing One Stop Centre
A woman affected by violence can access OSC in the following manner:
- By herself; or
- Through any person including any public spirited citizen, public servant (as defin ed under section 21 of Indian Penal Code, 1860), relative, friend, NGO, volunteer etc. , or
- Through Women Helpline integrated with police, ambulance and other emergency response helplines.
As soon as the complaint is registered a text message ( SMS /Internet ) would be sent to the DPO/PO/ CDPO/ SHO/ DM/ SP/ DYSP /CMO /PO of the district/area as required. When an aggrieved woman approaches the OSC for help either in person or if anybody approaches on her behalf, the case details will be fed in to a system as per the prescribed format and a Unique ID Number will be generated.
State Government/ UT Administration.
The Scheme will be funded through Nirbhaya Fund . The Central Government will provide 100% financial assistance to the State Government /UT Administrations under the Scheme.
For detailed guidelines, click here
List of SAKHI - One stop centres operational in the country
Source : Ministry of Women and Child Development