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Traumatic wait for rape rehab

Jharkhand’s social welfare department has not yet been able to kick-start the first rehab care centre for victims of sexual assault in Rinpas, Ranchi, even though official figures between January 1 and October 31, 2013, show 1,124 rape cases recorded across the state, including 100 in Ranchi.

This January, the social welfare department directed Rinpas to start the trauma centre on the behest of many prods from the Centre, which directed all states to start the hubs as part of a holistic system to deal with rape and its aftermath way back in 2009.

Rinpas responded the same month by preparing an estimated operational budget of Rs 12-15 lakh a year and earmarking an area for the centre adjoining its OPD, placing eight beds there.

The social welfare department okayed the budget in February, which the Centre would have provided. This gave rise to hopes that the state’s first trauma centre would be operational by June. However, nothing of the sort happened.

“We would have been the first in eastern India to have a crisis management centre for victims of rape and sexual assault. Unfortunately, we are still waiting for funds and a formal go-ahead from the state,” said an official of Rinpas, who did not want to be named.

Rinpas senior professor Amool Ranjan, associated with the project, conceded funds and administrative sanction were proving to be hurdles.

“It is a Centre-sponsored scheme, but funds will come via state social welfare department. Some three months ago, the former secretary of the department (Mridula Sinha) told us the Centre had sanctioned it but I don’t know where the matter got stuck. The state also hasn’t given its formal consent,” said Ranjan.

Social welfare department secretary Rajiv Arun Ekka couldn’t be contacted for his comments as his phone remained switched off on Sunday.

The trauma centre would have offered a vital but often overlooked service for victims, including minors like the Bariatu 13-year-old — free counselling.

Planned as a free-of-cost hub for holistic treatment to sexual assault victims coupled with 24/7 emergency medical care, counselling and psychotherapy, it would have given vital legal guidance and police protection to vulnerable victims.

Counselling for rape survivors helps them shed feelings of shame, helplessness and mistrust and integrates them into the mainstream. For poor victims, free counselling would have been the only route to regaining a semblance of normalcy.

For a society that for generations stigmatised the woman for her being raped, accused her of provocation and often excused the male violator, especially one in a power position, it is not unusual for many victims to go into deep depression and even show signs of acute schizophrenia.

After the Nirbhaya case, Justice Verma Commission recommendations and tighter anti-rape laws, police officers in Jharkhand have come on record to say crackdown on violators had increased.

Also, police have maintained that society’s stance has slowly shifted. Reduced stigma has led to families of rape victims approaching police instead of hushing up the cases, raising official numbers.

Will the Rinpas trauma centre open anytime in 2014?

Tell ttkhand@abpmail.com