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‘One stop centre’ to be saviour for Goa’s distressed women

Panaji: Taking into account the rising cases of crimes against women, the department of women and child development will soon set up ‘one stop centre’  near the Goa Medical College and Hospital, Bambolim, to provide specialised medical, legal and psychological support under one roof to the aggrieved women.

The centre will be integrated with 181 women helpline number to provide rescue and referral services to the women affected by violence and crimes including sexual harassment, sexual assault, domestic violence, trafficking, honour-related crimes, acid attacks and witch-hunting.

The centre will facilitate lodging of first information reports   and make arrangement for legal aid and counseling services.

It will also help provide speedy and hassle-free police and court proceedings.

The proposed building to house the centre will have five rooms to provide temporary shelter to the victims for maximum of five days along with their children (girls of all ages and boys up till eight years of age).

The centre will be set up by the Goa State Infrastructure Development Corporation using the Nirbhaya Fund on a 500-sq mt land acquired by the department.

The project is estimated to cost Rs 1.18 crore: unspent central fund of Rs 48 lakh and Rs 70 lakh of the state government will be utilised.

The Nirbhaya Fund was set up following the public outrage post the December 2012 rape and murder of a young woman.

A senior official explained that it took them a year to complete the land acquisition process and the delays were a result of complex administrative procedures. As a result, the funds sanctioned under the centrally-sponsored scheme for setting up the centre could not be utilised.

However, the official said the unspent funds can be revalidated for utilisation for constructing the centre during next financial year only after sending the Centre the final proposal along with the approved plans of the project.

Presently the department runs a temporary centre for victims within the premises of the GMC with the help of an NGO.

The temporary centre has attended to 491 victims since 2014; 11 victims have been attended in South Goa.

States are expected to use the Nirbhaya Fund for projects that have a “direct impact on safety and security concerns of women”.

States have to do this by utilising existing infrastructure and using innovative technology.

According to the figures released by the Union ministry of women and child development on the utilisation of the Nirbhaya Fund,  Goa has made overall utilisation of Rs 12.11 lakh out of Rs 96.07 lakh released for the ‘one stop centre scheme’.

It is pertinent to note here that Rs 27.9 lakh released for the ‘universalisation of women helpline scheme’ remained unutilised. The state did not spend the central fund which was released for setting up the women and child helpline number 181 because it spent from its own corpus and started the helpline in 2015.

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