In a first, anti-rape cell set up in city

ARCC to provide around-the-clock support to survivors of sexual violence

KARACHI: A much-needed facility for survivors of sexual violence was established in the port city Friday.

The Anti-Rape Crisis Cell (ARCC) will remain operational round the clock with proper security at the Police Surgeon Office, Civil Hospital. The facility will serve as a vital resource centre, offering a range of services to survivors, including medical and psychological support, legal aid, and counseling.

The facility will also help and provide medico-legal support to males, females and transgender persons.

The launch of the ARCC reflects a collective effort to address sexual violence and empower survivors to seek justice and healing.

The establishment of this much-needed facility marks a crucial step forward in the pursuit of justice and support for survivors of sexual assault.

The Sindh health department with the technical support of UN Women as part of the Tahaffuz project and funded by the US government’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement launched the first ARCC

It is pertinent to mention here that the provincial government has to establish 27 such facilities across Sindh.

“We have also made a one-room safe house for the rape victim if the survivor doesn’t go back home,” said the police surgeon Dr Summaiya Syed.

Dr Syed briefed reporters about the facilities the survivors will receive at the facility.

Speaking to The Express Tribune she said that: “at least three to four cases of sexual violence are being reported in the city regularly.” She said that all these cases come through the city’s three tertiary care hospitals, including Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Center (JPMC), Dr Ruth Pfau Civil Hospital Karachi and Abbasi Shaheed Hospital. “The second facility will be established at JPMC,” she said.

Qasim Siraj Soomro, the parliamentary health secretary, said that: “We need to sensitise the people and the best way is to approach thousands of elected volunteers – the local government’s representatives in each union council.” He added that the provincial government is dedicated to eradicating sexual violence and providing comprehensive support to survivors.

The launching ceremony also featured remarks from US Consul General Karachi Nicole Theriot, affirming the international community’s support and cooperation in the fight against sexual violence and advocating for the protection of survivors’ rights.

“I am proud of the residents of Sindh province where the first ARCC has been established. I commend the government of Sindh and UN Women for establishing the ARCC. Sexual violence is not only a local concern but a global issue that demands collective action. The international community stands in solidarity with the efforts to combat sexual violence and provide survivors with the necessary resources for recovery and justice.”

Mayor Karachi Murtaza Wahab commended the establishment of the ARCC as a significant milestone in addressing a pressing issue and assured the government’s continuous support in creating a safer society for all. “Today marks a momentous occasion as we inaugurate the Anti-Rape Crisis Cell, an emblem of our collective commitment to protecting the dignity and rights of every citizen. Sexual violence inflicts deep wounds on the fabric of our society, and it is our duty to ensure that survivors receive the care and justice they deserve.”

UN Women representative, Younas Khalid, highlighted the significance of ARCC as the bedrock of consolidated services for rape survivors. “The ARCC serves as an essential pillar in our collective efforts to combat sexual violence and ensure the rights and the well-being of rape survivors. By providing consolidated services and support, these cells play a pivotal role in empowering survivors to reclaim their lives and seek justice,” he said.

The focal person of the Special Committee on Anti-Rape Law, Usama Malik said that the victim will also be compensated under Section-17 of the Anti-Rape Act 2021. “Today we commemorate a significant milestone in our relentless pursuit of justice and safety for all citizens. The establishment of this cell is a testament to the dedication of our government and the collaboration of various stakeholders in our ongoing battle against sexual violence.”

Published in The Express Tribune, August 5th, 2023.

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