One Stop Center functional yet unreachable to women

City Crime Karnataka

Women get to know about the centers only from police stations or hospitals.

The Nirbhaya Kendra –SakhiOne Stop Center (OCS) in Bangalore remains unreachable to women who are subject to abuse and violence.The existing helpline numbers including 181 remain out of service and women are still unaware of the services. A victim of domestic abuse from Bomannahalli said, “My husband beats me up, we have three kids and he doesn’t look after the kids and me. I went to the police station to complain about the issue where they told me about the OCS. I didn’t know about the place before.”

The implementation guidelines for the One Stop Center Scheme by the Ministry of Women and Child Development states that the OCS will be integrated with 181 and other helpline numbers and the women affected could be referred to the OCS through these numbers.

Another woman who had been promised marriage, but had been abandoned said, “I went to the hospital for some medical tests and from there I got to know the address of Sakhi OCS. I did not have a number of this place nor knew about it before.”

The Nirbhaya Kendra- Sakhi One Stop Center lacks staff and is hard to access for people who don’t know the regional language or English. A lady from Orissa who approached the center in BBangalorefor help complained that she was unable to interact with the staff due to the language barrier. She did not receive help until someone from her family came to  the center.

Sub-Inspector Lakshmi, in-charge of the Nirbhaya Kendra- Sakhi One Stop Center at Majestic, Bangalore said, “Generally the victims go to the police, NGO’s or hospital and get to know about thiscenter.Victims can also use the helpline numbers to contact us.The OSC is functioning since 2019 but the extra services started during Feb 2022 and we receive approximately 100 cases per month.”

She added that the Sakhi One Stop Center has been merged with the Nirbhaya Kendra to add extra facilities like counseling, legal advice, police help and shelter and there is one OSC in the city. The shelter can accommodate four to six people.

However, she added that four months from now, a new OCS shelter will be inaugurated at Infantry Road. This shelter will have separate floors for women and children.

Savita Kanamadi, Sub-inspector from the Shivajinagar women police station said, “We do not send the victims of sexual abuse or domestic violence to the OSC, we send them to the Vanita Sahay Vani, an NGO,  for counseling and deal with the matter ourselves.”

She also added that there are no separate helpline numbers for women, they can dial the existing emergency number 112.

Prof. R. Indra, a sociologist and women’s rights activist said, “One Stop Center is a good scheme but there seem to be serious problem in its implementation.”“Provision of funds, sharing contact details in social, print and electronic media and identifying and training committed volunteers are some of the ways these centers could be made functional,” she added.

Prof. Indra also said, “The information about helpline numbers should be made accessible in public domain. NGOs and civil society groups must be actively involved in sharing the contact details in prominent public places.”