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First-ever women crisis centre opens

KARACHI: The Sindh Women Development Department has established the Women Crisis Centre, first of its kind in the country, to provide assistance to the women exposed to domestic and other sorts of violence of serious nature.

The centre was formally inaugurated here on August17. A decision to this effect was taken at a meeting of the ministers and officials associated with the federal and provincial ministries and departments of women development in Islamabad on August 2 this year.

Sindh Minister for Women Development, Dr Saeeda Malik, briefing newsmen after the formal inauguration of the centre, said that the facility appeared to be one of the major projects towards the cause of women empowerment.

Initially, the crisis centre would take up the cases already reported in press or lodged personally by an aggrieved and of whom the concerned authorities have taken notice.

A well-trained team, comprising a lawyer, a social worker and a doctor has been made available at the centre. The minister said that the next crisis centre would be established in Sukkur soon after which such a facility would be available at district level throughout the province. She said the initiative would help restore women’s confidence and provide relief to them from fear and pressures.

Dr Malik said that availability of psychiatrists at the centre was also being ensured. Besides, she added, vocational training for distressed women would be arranged at the facility which would encourage their participation in the activities of women professional bodies.

“Although service delivery is no responsibility of the women development department, it has to play the role of catalyst and build linkages between different organizations and community in general.”

Dr Malik said it was in the given situation that women representatives, in close coordination with the government, were making efforts to address women’s issues, initially for economic empowerment, social uplift and legal support.

In this context, she referred to the presence of the Education Minister Dr Hamida Khuhro, Deputy Speaker of the Sindh Assembly Rahila Tiwana and other legislators and councillors at the ceremony.

Speaking on the occasion, Director General of the Federal Ministry of Women Development Sohaila Asif referred to an ambitious project, ‘Access to Justice’, for which significant funding is said to be made, and said that the intention was to provide necessary support to women prisoners.

Earlier, Ms Asif read out a message from Nilofer Bakhtiar. Dr Anne Ashcroft of the CIET International, referred to country-wide studies undertaken by her group, and said that economic factors and low literacy level among both men and women were some of the major factors leading to violence against women.

Source: Dawn