Mumbai: State's first one-stop 'Nirbhaya' centre at KEM hospital by Jan-end

Dec 08, 2018, 14:05 IST | Rupsa Chakraborty

However, bureaucratic apathy resulted in the four-year delay in finally getting the space to construct the centre at KEM

Mumbai: State's first one-stop 'Nirbhaya' centre at KEM hospital by Jan-end
A bed at the centre

After a four-year delay, Maharashtra is finally set to get its first one-stop crisis centre by January. The civic-run KEM hospital has begun construction of what will be called a Nirbhaya Centre in two phases, in a 1,500-sq feet area inside the hospital premises. Victims of sexual abuse can directly approach this centre without going to the police station to file a complaint.

They would only be assigned numbers, without any names in the patient files, to protect their identity. With this, KEM will also become the first civic-run hospital across the country to procure a R11-lakh Colposcopy machine only for clinical forensic investigation of such victims. The Union Government had passed an order in 2014 regarding opening of a Nirbhaya Centre in every district across the state as a tribute to the victim of the December 16, 2012 Delhi gang-rape case. These centres would act as a one-stop facility for all kinds of aid to victims in distress including medical help, counselling, legal and police assistance, while ensuring anonymity for them. However, bureaucratic apathy resulted in the four-year delay in finally getting the space to construct the centre at KEM.

Construction of Nirbhaya Centre is likely to be completed by January end
Construction of Nirbhaya Centre is likely to be completed by January end

A 15-year-old girl was last month found in an unconscious state at the Dadar station; she had been raped. She was separated from her parents due to the crowd and couldn't navigate her way back home as was suffering from a mental disorder. She was found in the morning by Railway Police officers and taken to KEM hospital. After gaining consciousness though, she panicked and needed counselling before she could recollect the incident.

"We get many patients who need counselling before they can get comfortable and record any statements. So we decided to make the Nirbhaya Centre at a secluded place near the psychiatry department," said Dr Ravindra Devkar, assistant professor at the Forensic Department of the hospital. This is the first time in India that a Nirbhaya Centre is being constructed under the supervision of the forensic department of a civic hospital where a clinical forensic examination would also be conducted. The construction of the centre that began in August would mostly be completed by January end. BMC commissioner Ajoy Mehta is directly supervising its progress.

The Centre
In the first phase, a 300-sq ft OPD (Out Patient Department) has been constructed near the trauma centre for initial examination. The patient would then be taken to phase II which has a temporary bed strength of five. "We have divided it into two parts for better supervision and treatment. All specialists from gynaecology, medicine, psychiatry and forensic departments would examine the patients in the OPD and trauma centre. They would then be shifted to the room inside. Generally, it takes 48 hours to calm them down. Once that is done, we will shift them to other departments," said Dr Devkar.

The OPD has a modified bed with bright LED lights for examination. The colposcope will show minute vaginal wall injuries. "It will help in better examination and thus in providing more solid evidence to the police," said Dr Harish Pathak, head of Forensic Department at KEM Hospital. With this centre, victims can avoid the challenge of filing a police complaint. "Women can directly approach us. We would examine them at the centre and inform the police who too will take the statement in the presence of our experts," said Dr Hemant Deshmukh, KEM hospital dean. Also, to tackle the issue of identification, "there will only be numbers in the patient files." "Apart from this, the centre will be guarded and no one will be allowed to go inside," said Dr Sachin Patil, associate professor at the Forensic Department.

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