Where battered women, kids get their sukoon back

CHANDIGARH: In a state known for unequal gender treatment, there is some hope for the emotionally and physically battered and exploited women.

editorial@tribune.com

Naveen S Garewal

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 28

In a state known for unequal gender treatment, there is some hope for the emotionally and physically battered and exploited women.

The state-run “Sukoon” centres have been quietly running at eight places in the state for the past three years, providing much-needed solace to women in distress.

Some 2,200 survivors of sexual exploitation, domestic violence and other gender-discriminatory behaviour have so far been helped in leading honourable lives.

Set up in civil hospitals, these centres run with inputs from physicians, social and psychological counsellors, policewomen, representatives of state and central women commissions and other support infrastructure.

Once a patient comes to the hospital and is showing signs of physical or sexual abuse or domestic violence, they are isolated and sent to separate rooms for a heart-to-heart talk with skilled professionals who assess the future course of action.

According to Dr Sonia Trikha, Executive Director of the Haryana State Health Resource Centre (HSHRC), the “Sukoon” centres aim at providing assistance to woman and child survivors of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV).

“Sukoon” centres are running in Civil Hospitals at Ambala, Faridabad, Gurugram, Jind, Panchkula, Panipat, Rewari and Yamunanagar. The counsellors facilitate provision of medical treatment, psychological counselling, police assistance and legal aid to survivors of violence.

She says, “Violence against women is an extremely complex issue that needs to be dealt at multiple levels. The most important aspect of violence is the impact on women’s health and well-being. The centres have been evolved keeping in view these complexities.”

“Since a hospital is the first point of contact for an SGBV survivor to avail services like medical and psychological aid, it is easier to get in touch with the survivor of violence in a hospital based setting,” says Dr Trikha.

Haryana is the only state to launch such an initiative with centres at Ambala, Panchkula, Panipat and Yamunanagar now well-established. The centres at Faridabad, Jind, Gurugram and Rewari have also been launched.

The HSHRC has recommend to the state government that it should be made mandatory for mahila thaana to take up SGBV cases rather than referring these back to the local police station. Gender-sensitisation training of all mahila thana staff should be conducted.

If required, the case should be registered against the perpetrators of violence at the “Sukoon” centres. It is being proposed to involve the Haryana State Legal Services Authority so that legal aid can be provided to the needy at “Sukoon” centres.

To boost support infrastructure, the Department of Women and Child Development is being asked to provide help in terms of listing of shelter homes. On a long-term basis, the Education Department (School and Higher Education) should be involved to provide sensitisation training on SGBV cases for students, teachers and non-teaching staff.

All “Sukoon” counsellors have been apprised of the POCSO Act, 2012, and trained to provide counselling as per the Act. Services of counsellors will be provided to all cases referred from the Haryana Rajya Mahila Aayog to “Sukoon” centres.

To strengthen the programme, the HSHRC will conduct a one-day orientation-cum-training of mahila thana staff (SIs, ASIs and head constables) on SGBV issues at the State Institute of Health and Family Welfare in Panchkula.

Novel beginning

  • ‘Sukoon’ centres being run in Civil Hospitals at Ambala, Faridabad, Gurugram, Jind, Panchkula, Panipat, Rewari and Yamunanagar
  • Centres run with inputs from physicians, social and psychological counsellors, policewomen and women commission representatives
  • Patient showing signs of abuse or violence is isolated and sent for a heart-to-heart talk with skilled professionals for assessment
  • About 2,200 survivors of sexual exploitation, domestic violence and other gender-discriminatory behaviour helped to lead honourable lives

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