During the 2014 Delhi Budget, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had announced the setting up of these centres. At the centre, women who have been sexually assaulted can not only walk in and get medical examination and counseling, but also register police cases and seek necessary legal help.
We already had facilities for medical examination and collection of forensic evidence from rape victims But this centre will have two rooms where a woman can walk in, get an FIR registered and have her statement recorded. She can also seek psycho-social counseling from the Delhi Commission of Women (DCW). Further, the hospital will facilitate admission, if need be, for treatment or find her a shelter home to stay in if she has problems returning to her family, medical superintendent of Sanjay Gandhi Memorial hospital, Dr Puneeta Mahajan said.
The centre will also provide ambulances for transport of victims to their homes if needed. The staff at the centre will also have a list of lawyers who can be contacted by the victim for legal help, officials at the hospital said.
A staff nurse, who will be posted round the clock, will be the first person to receive all victims. We have sensitised our staff, including doctors and nurses. Special care has been taken to ensure privacy during medical examination. A separate room has been provided for recording statements and registering police complaints, Dr Mahajan said.
These centres were conceptualised after the December 2012 gangrape that drew increased attention to crimes against women. According to figures from Delhi Police from annual crime reports, crimes against women have been steadily increasing over the last four years.
In 2013, 1,559 cases of rape and 3,347 of molestation were reported, from 680 rape and 653 molestation cases in 2012. In 2011, 568 rapes were reported and 507 were reported in 2010.
In the Delhi Budget, the government had proposed setting up these centres in one government hospital in each district, to help rape victims in crisis management and rehabilitation.
This centre is likely to be followed by similar centres in Deen Dayal Upadhyay (DDU) and Guru Teg Bahadur (GTB) hospitals in the next two months.
The idea is to provide all the facilities under one roof to encourage more women to report crimes of sexual assault, an official from the department of social welfare said.
A police station environment can be disconcerting. Such a centre at a hospital is a more appropriate location where women can feel more comfortable to walk in and report crimes, and can perhaps be better assisted, the official said.