One-stop centres help woman, children to cope with crisis situation

Anwara Begum (name in disguise) got married six years back and she has a four-year-old baby girl. But despite this, Anwara’s husband got involved in extramarital affair and asked Anwara to bring Taka three lakh from her father’s house. When Anwara refused to give the money, her husband threatened her to give divorce and even tortured her physically.

 After getting tortured by her husband, Anwara went to the Dhaka Medical College Hospital and took treatment at the One-Stop Crisis Centre (OCC) there. “After the incident, I didn’t file a case, but took counseling services from the OCC. Now I have got the courage to stand on my own feet and face my problems, thanks to OCC,” said Anwara.

OCC is such a specialized system, which is in place in some of the selected government medical college hospitals, to provide healthcare services and legal assistance to the oppressed women and children. The OCC system is now available at seven divisional cities as well as in Faridpur and Cox’s Bazar Medical College Hospitals under the Multisectoral Programme of the Ministry of Women and Children Affairs to prevent women repression.

These centers provide treatment facilities to the oppressed and tortured women and children as well as offer policing and legal assistance, forensic DNA test and mental counseling to rehabilitate them in the society. The women and children, who are physically tortured, violated or burnt get medical, legal and other assistances free of cost at the OCC since the centres have doctors, police personnel, nurses, social welfare department officials, counselors and lawyers.

Project Director of the Multi-sectoral Programme under the Ministry of Women and Children Affairs Dr Abul Hossain said the biggest facility of the OCC is that a victim can get all sorts of services from the OCC and he or she does not need to go to any other place for getting all necessary services.

Dr Abul Hossain said, “A victim can take services from the OCC depending on the nature of crime and types of services he or she needs. In places where there is no OCC, a victim needs to go here and there for taking all the necessary services. So, if the OCCs are installed in all the hospitals including in the private ones, then the victims will be able to get support with ease and comfort.”

Echoing with Dr Abul Hossain, Coordinator of the OCC at Dhaka Medical College Hospital Dr Bilkis Begum said with the limited space, it is not possible to accommodate all the victims here at the OCC at DMCH. “If the trial process is carried out in a much speedy manner, then the OCCs could have yielded much more results.”

According to the data published in the April, 2019 edition of newsletter of the Ministry of Women and Children Affairs, the number of victims at the Nine OCCs in the first three months of 2019 increased by 9.13 percent compared to the victims, who gathered at the OCCs in the last quarter of 2018.

During that period, the number of victims at the OCC in Dhaka increased by 19.23 percent, in Rajshahi it increased by 4 percent, in Chattogram it increased by 13 percent, in Sylhet the number increased by 9.55 percent, in Faridpur it increased by 33 percent, in Rangpur by 38.46 percent, in Cox’s Bazar it witnessed a rise of 4.25 percent while the number of victims saw arise of 4 percent and 8.9 percent respectively in Khulna and Barisal. It was also learnt fro m the newsletter that a total of 314 cases were filed in court under the Prevention of Women and Children Repression Act 2000 in the first three months of 2019 where verdicts were given in 33 cases.

The services at the OCCs remain open round-the-clock and the victims can also avail services from the OCCs directly by not getting admitted at the centres through telephone. Besides, move is on to set up OCCs at Gopalganj, Noakhali, Pabna, Kushtia, Jashore, Bogura, Mymensing and Cumilla Medical College Hospitals.