‘OCC’- Legal Aid And Free Health Care Services
Fatima Zahra Ahasan Raisa:
Unawareness and lack of knowledge regarding free legal help and health care services ultimately leads to unending sufferings of victims. Violence against women is a serious issue in Bangladesh with different manifestations. The victim requires immediate legal help to get justice and physical, psychological support to reintegrate in the society with due dignity. One Stop Crisis Centre (OCC) was established with a view to giving all sorts of necessary services to woman victims of violence. It gets difficult and almost impossible for a victim to go to court or police station who has been physically abused and is in a serious condition. Thus, OCC provides the victim both legal and health assistance. This revolutionary initiative was taken jointly by Bangladesh and Denmark government under Multi-Social Sectoral Programme on Violence Against Women. It is a joint endeavor of five ministries and lead by the Ministry of Women and Children Affairs and an initiative between the government and NGOs. Under this project, OCC is providing specialized services for women since 2001.
Unfortunately, many victims are unaware about the existence of OCC. Moreover, in this pandemic situation,domestic violence has increased in a higher rate and the victims are being deprived of their rights as the court is closed. Thus, OCC is an important medium to seek legal assistance in this situation. In Bangladesh , women and children are tortured and oppressed in diversified ways. In this situation, OCC plays an important role by providing health care and legal help to the victims. The victims must collect the evidences like –blood stained clothes ,physical injuries ,bruises etc. Many victims unknowingly washes the clothes which causes difficulties in proving the accused wrong.
OCC altogether provides health care , police assistance , DNA test , social services , legal assistance , psychological counseling ,shelter services, rehabilitation and reintegration. Women and children survivors of violence are provided with food and medicine free of cost. OCC also provides necessary medicine from its allocated money if medicine is not available in the hospital. To extend the support for women and children victims of violence around the country 67 One-Stop Crisis Cell (OCC) were established including 47 in District Sadar Hospitals and 20 in Upazila Health Complexes. To provide services, it establishes connection between the stake-holders in district and upazila level. If any victim wants to file case, OCC contacts with the police and prepares necessary documents by its lawyers .The psychological counseling in OCC is provided by the National Trauma Centre. National Helpline Centre (10921)for violence against women and children has been established under the Multi- Sectoral Programme which remains open for 24 hours.It responses to the queries and questions of victims , their family members and other stakeholders. Till June 2020 ,11119 number of cases have been filed in OCC among which judgment has been announced for 1529 cases.
Some of the diversified objectives of OCC includes –
- Making the access of getting services easier and flexible for the victims.
- Providing various services to women and children victims of violence in one place.
- Mobilizing the required services within the hospital and developing referral mechanism with other agencies for the women and children victims of violence.
- Creating a women and children friendly environment in District Sadar Hospitals and Upazilla Health Complexes.
- Establishing coordination between government and non-government organization in providing services for victims.
- Establishing connection in services available for victims in OCC in central and root level.
- Disseminates the judgments and directives of higher courts regarding violence.
- Active participation in activities regarding prevention of child marriage and dowry .
- Reviewing the state of victims in cell and initiating proper preventives.
- Arranging and participating in seminars ,workshops and other programmes to popularize the issue on violence against women.
- Cordially attending victims and taking necessary steps to provide services to victim without any delay.
The contribution of OCC in supporting the victims is undoubtedly praiseworthy. The establishment of such a centre of excellence for the survivors of violence should be acknowledged and applauded. Though service of OCC has been proved fruitful but attempt should be taken so that it does not remain confined within a project andis established on a permanent basis for long lasting solution. Focus should be given on the challenges faced by OCC like –limited human resource, lack of trained counselor, etc. The strong role of mass media, human rights activists, social workers,lawyers and police is needed so that people can know about OCC and victims can ensure their right of getting free health services and legal help.
Fatima Zahra Ahasan Raisa: Student; Department of law, University of Chittagong