CHENNAI: Police stations in the province will soon make space for special cells that cater exclusively to counselling women and children victims of violence, from the time they get a complaint till they get justice.
Tamil Nadu police department, confirmed by the National Commission for Women, will set up special cells manned by two women advocates, at select police stations in four cities – Chennai, Madurai, Salem and Tirunelveli – and in Villupuram district.
A senior functionary in the social welfare department said the estimate is to provide immediate counselling to victims of domestic abuse, rape and sexual assault who approach police stations.She stated although the state operates all women’s police stations and anti-dowry harassment cells for women, police personnel are often tripped up on the back foot when counselling is needed for those who have faced violence.
Prasanna Gettu of Chennai-based Crime Prevention and Victim Care, an organization that works with victims of domestic abuse, said women in distress usually reach out for external help when all else has died.”And each survivor has her own story and coping mechanism.General counselling in such cases will not avail,” said Prasanna, commending the move to begin these special cells inside the police set-up.She said constant counselling is important at every level of a woman’s healing process. “And it helps to know they are not alone,” she added.
According to the National Crime Records Bureau data, crimes against women have more than doubled over the past 10 years. In 2016 alone, the state witnessed at least 854 cases of assault on women and 319 cases of rape. Approximately 8% of these events were reported from Chennai.
Experts who deal with survivors say these women tend to feel helpless, and experience fear, along with a sense of low self-esteem. “They are mentally, emotionally, and physically overwhelmed, as well as tired.In this state they are oftentimes confused about the choices available to them and are ineffective to make choices,” said senior advocate Sudha Ramalingam
The special cell initiative, which is being taken out on a pilot basis in the country, will be initially funded by the commission, and advocates will be developed by experts from Tata Institute of Social Sciences.They will offer services in the immediate course of police assistance in registering complaints, legal aid, placed in institutions, and referral to other specialized social service offices.
The mobile phones were initially begun in Mumbai as a pilot project by the United Nations Development Fund for Women along with the Maharashtra government and TISS in 2002.At present, there are close to 100 such cells across the state.
Report By: Manavi Joshi, Student Reporter, INBA
Dated: 29th January, 2018