OCCs: savior for women, children

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DHAKA, Sept 11, 2020 (BSS) – The government’s One-Stop Crisis Centers (OCCs) have appeared as savior for abused women and children of Bangladesh while the mechanism is offering the violence-victims integrated services starting from medical support to helping file cases against the perpetrators.

The women who have been abused are now tearing up chains of thousand years old social taboos and seeking justice with the help of OCCs those are currently operating at all divisional headquarters, 47 district hospitals and 20 selected upazila health complexes across the country.

The OCC is a significant component of the Bangladesh government’s landmark programme to protect women and children against all sort of violence named ‘Multi-Sectoral Programme on Violence Against Women’ implemented by the women and children affairs ministry with the support of the Danish government.

The main objective of the OCC is to provide information to the women and children survivors of violence regarding various services like health care, police assistance, legal advice, psychosocial counseling, rehabilitation, reintegration and refer them to the relevant organization.

“At the centres, joint efforts of doctor, lawyer, police officer and psychologist ensure that they (victims) can get treatment and take legal actions all under one roof,” said Multi-Sectoral Programme Director Dr Abul Hossain. —

He said the OCC has already raised a confidence level of the women to speak out against violence and abuse.

Apparently, Hossin said it may seem that women violence rate has been increased in the country but the reality is the tendency to speak up and seek justice has increased among the people of even rural areas due to social media as well as existence of the OCCs out of their reach.

He stressed on regular survey is necessary so that trend of violence and perpetrators can be identified and different measures should be taken based on different regions.

The Multi-Sectoral programme has also successfully established the National Trauma Counselling Centre (NTCC) at the Department of Women Affairs (DWA) premises and the National Forensic DNA-Profiling Laboratory (NFDPL) at Dhaka Medical College (DMC) with DNA screening centers in five divisional headquarters.

While describing how the OCC is functioning, Natore Sadar Hospital OCC centre programme officer Md Mukhtar Hossain referred a recent rape incident committed at the sadar upazia while the victim is a young girl.

“We do always check hospital register whether any victim of gender violence has been admitted or not … so last month we found a girl admitted here as a rape victim,” he said.

After getting informed by the hospital’s registered book, Mukhtar said the OCC centre had taken all responsibility of that girl through providing medical treatment and counselling as well as help her filing a police case.

The evidence of the case has been preserved and if necessary, DNA test of the accused will be done, he added.

The OCC filed a case with the Natore police station and later on the charge sheet was issued against the accused by the investigating officer (IO) of the case, SI Subrata.

Muktar said the OCC of Natore Sadar hospital has provided assistance to a total of 1,026 women including 146 children till last year since its inception seven years back in 2013.

Apart from providing support at the centre, the OCC staff also rush to the spot, if they are notified by any individual or receive complain about any case of violence against women and children through the OCC’s 24-hour helpline number is – 10921.

“Even, if we receive any complain regarding violence against women or children through the government service seeking national helpline like ‘333’ ‘999’ or ‘109’ or any other person, we right away inform the matter to OCC for tasking immediate action,” said Mosha Nasrin Banu, Natore’s Singra Upazila Nirbahi Officer.

As like that, recently, OCC progrmme officer of Nandigram Upazila Health Complex in Bogura district Ruhul Amin rushed to a village while a local journalist informed that a fifth grader minor child was sexually abused by an adult male neighbor there.

Under assistance of the OCC, on the same day, police reached the victim’s house and arrested the accused and put him under trial.

The OCC also provided medical test and treatment to the minor victims with counseling. “The counselling part is very important in our services as most of the cases women or children go through a complex psychological trauma and don’t know how to cope with the situation,” said Amin.

He said the OCC maintains strict privacy policy of the victims. “Our ward is so restricted where all entries are strictly monitored … even doctors, nurses are not being allowed to enter unless the victim’s privacy ensured fully,” Amin added.

Natore Superintendent of Police Liton Kumar Saha said they give priority to providing legal assistance to abused women and children referred by the OCC.

“We attach special attention care to the cases recommended by the OCC and try to complete the judicial process expeditiously,” said Md Matiur Rahman, District Legal Aid Officer and Senior Assistant Judge in the district.

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