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BMC sets ball rolling for 1-point crisis centre for sexual assault survivors

The centre, the first of its kind in India, will be built at KEM Hospital

The city — as well as the country — is inching closer to getting its first one point crisis centre for survivors of sexual assault, with top civic and police officials meeting doctors and social workers in the city yesterday to discuss the logistics involved in implementing the plan at BMC-run KEM Hospital in Parel.

KEM hospita
Shelar’s letter states that the centre would cater to all the needs of sexual assault survivors, whether men, children or women. FILe pic

The proposal, which was first put forward in 2013 by Harish Pathak, head of department at the hospital’s forensic medicine department, had been consigned to oblivion. A few days ago, Member of Legislative Council and BJP’s Mumbai President Ashish Shelar renewed the campaign for such a centre, sending letters to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BMC Municipal Commissioner Sitaram Kunte that delineated the crucial role such a centre would play in helping survivors of sexual assault cope with trauma.

In his letter, Shelar pushed for a ‘centre of excellence for survivors of sexual assault’ at KEM Hospital. It says that the centre would cater to all the needs of sexual assault survivors in the city, whether men, children or women. The centre would provide medical, psychological, legal and social help to survivors. Institutes like Tata Institute for Social Sciences (TISS) would be roped in to share judicial knowledge, while NGOs would also play a key role in allowing survivors to speak about their ordeals in an open environment, without fear. The civic body will soon be meeting police officials and lawyers to discuss how the proposal can be executed.

Shelar stressed that the city urgently needed such a centre, and appealed to the civic administration and the central government that the proposal be cleared and processed by August 15 this year. The BMC, however, has cautioned that the proposal needs to be developed before it can be implemented. The centre would be the first of its kind in India.

Shelar said, “The finances for this centre would be taken from the Nirbhaya fund of the Central Government, which was not touched by the UPA government. The BMC has also promised to take the proposal forward and guaranteed that they will speed up the process. I will personally follow up on the status and take the proposal to the central government at the earliest, so that the centre becomes a reality soon.”

Sanjay Deshmukh, additional municipal commissioner, said, “There was a meeting in this respect where officials of the police department were present, including Joint Commissioner of Police Sadanand date. Faculty members from TISS, doctors from KEM Hospital also attended the meeting. We will meet the Police Commissioner next week and look into the standard operation guidelines and consider the feasibility of the project. Since the project is in its early stages, I cannot say when the centre will become operational.”

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