Post-Nirbhaya crisis centres get PMO boot

NEW DELHI (TIP): The much touted “one stop crisis centre” — conceived in the aftermath of the Nirbhaya case and the Justice Verma report — has been scrapped by the NDA government. The project worth about Rs 200 crore was expected to provide medical, legal, police and emergency services to women in distress. The women and child development (WCD) ministry, which was helming the project, had planned to set up the centres in every district of the country.

According to sources, the plan has been shot down by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) on the argument that the scheme was unnecessary and services could be provided through the existing infrastructure like hospitals and women police stations. WCD ministry sources however pointed out that there were many scenarios when women who were stalked, molested, raped or experienced violence and could not or were not willing to go to a police station.

“They require only shelter or counseling. The centre promises anonymity to the victim. It would have acted as an overnight shelter while making all the services of a hospital, police station, legal aid cell under one roof,” sources said. The cost of a centre was pitched at Rs 36 lakh. A collateral damage of the decision is the scrapping of the women’s helpline. “It will be difficult to run a helpline. Where will we send the women who require help if the centre does not exist?” the source said. The ministry had in fact already announced the centres and enlisted support from states including 90 members of Parliament who have allocated land for the purpose in their constituency.

WCD minister Maneka Gandhi had assured that the centres would be open by December. Despite several attempts Gandhi could not be reached for comment. The centres were a significant recommendation of the Justice Verma committee set up to suggest far-reaching reforms in police, judiciary and executive. The Verma committee had felt that there was absence of a single-point redressal system for heinous crimes against women. It felt, the victims faced a harrowing time in getting their complaints registered and did not mange to get medical and legal aid on time.

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