Objective="To promote psychosomatic health of women through empowerment."
Details for Reform Option "Inter-sectoral approach to Family Counselling Centres, Madhya Pradesh"
In the Country Report for the Fourth World Conference on Women at Beijing in 1995 Indian government accepted the fact that domestic violence on women in the society is a hidden menace. Two Indian States i.e. Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra together account for 29.7 % of total registered crime against women. Domestic violence in any form harasses women and increases their vulnerability for ill health, ultimately leading to psychosomatic disorders like depression, anxiety, hypertension, high suicidal tendency.
Realising the fact that mental health is a neglected issue in India, Family Counselling Centre (FCC) were established by the Institution of Family counselling Support Services in 1999 in five districts- Satna, Rewa, Sidhi, Chattarpur and Panna. FCCs are supported financially by United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA).
Action:Regular Counselling Services: The victims of domestic violence are counselled respecting their confidentiality and privacy. If the women are driven out of the home or family and does not have any place to stay then she is referred to the Short Stay Home run by an NGO or social welfare board, for some time. In the mean time the FCC sends an advance note of invitation to the clients accused one (spouse or the relative or second party) on a fixed date. The FCC interacts with and counsels the accused and the grieved client separately and then together in a family setting and tries to resolve the problem from their point of view. The counsellor tries to cure the psychological stress and trauma and helps the women in restoring to normal mental health. Counsellor, Social worker and legal advisor forms a team of FCCs.
All the social workers and the counsellors of the family counselling centres of the five IPD districts have been provided training in the area of counselling by the Indore School of Social Work organized by the IPD project.
Department of Health and Department of Women and Child Development plays a proactive role in the promotion of FCCs activities and restoring the psychosomatic health of women as well as family.
For monitoring of the FCCs locally, an agreement was signed between the Chairperson of District RCH Society, the implementing agency of the UNFPA supported the Integrated Population and Development (IPD) project in Satna and the Chairperson of the Police Welfare Society, Satna.
Advocacy Campaign: Some of the FCCs have adapted to the local settings and have got printed advocacy material in the local language. The community receives legal literacy skills relating to women’s rights and child marriages.
Legal Awareness Camp: The FCC team along with the police department officials organise legal awareness camps in the urban and rural areas of the districts wherein; the advocates, police officials and officials from the department of women and child development and health address the women on issues concerning to violence, reproductive health, and employment generating activities.
Total number of cases registered for the period 2001 to 2005 is 1062; out of which 849 cases were settled. The data for the period January 2003 to June 2003 are not available. However, there is clear evidence of positive impact of the FCCs on resolving of the family disputes, addressing violence against women and thus improving their mental health. The type of crime reported to FCCs are problem of dowry, domestic violence, Tension, Depression, illicit relation, alcohol / drug related, maladjustment between wife and husband.
The running cost of one FCC is rupees three lakh sixty six thousand per year (INR 3,66,000/- per year).
FCCs are established under UNFPA supported programme in the five districts of MP in 1999: Satna, Rewa, Sidhi, Chattarpur and Panna.
It took around one and half year starting from the review, need assessment to a functional family counselling centre.
Integrated approach: It follows a system approach to resolve the family and mental health issues and provides an inter-sectoral platform among the RCH Society, Police Department and Women and Child.
Confidentiality: Privacy, confidentiality and individual rights of the client are respected.
Focus on mental health: Preventive and promotive approach for psychosomatic disorders, especially among women.
Women’ right: Legal counselling is also made available to generate awareness among women for their own right.
Liaison with Health department: Involvement of district health society, family planning and welfare unit for a comprehensive family care.
Delayed impact: Inclusion of sensitive issues related to sexual and reproductive health that may demand slow transitional positive change in the cultural norms.
Insufficient fund/ logistics: Operational difficulty in running the FCCs due to financial crunches.
Expressed need for a FCC in the community, a furnished building having rooms for confidential counselling, expert team members, coordination and cooperation among health, police, social welfare, tribal welfare, IEC departments and NGOs.
Who needs to be consulted
Community (key members, marginalised sections like women, elderly, tribes), women welfare NGOs, Police Department, Social Welfare, Family Planning Unit, Naree Niketan (Short Stay Houses for Women), private sector and the project officer, UNFPA, Madhya Pradesh.
Good: The Family Counselling Centres have been in operation under the Central Social Welfare Board scheme in states such as Delhi, Kerala, Maharashtra, Karnataka, West Bengal and Punjab and other states and with this new approach also it is sustainable.
Chances of Replication
The FCCs have been upscaled by the State Government of Madhya Pradesh to cover all the districts. The Department of Women and Child Development has committed funds for upscaling, strengthening and sustainability in all the districts of the state.
This reform option is good enough to empower women for legal, gender equity, equality and to assert their reproductive rights decision making; still an evaluation study is needed for statistically sound results. The issues on reproductive health and family planning require a comprehensive approach to add on the utility of the FCCs.
Dr. Anil Bhola, Research Consultant, National Institute of Medical Statistics, New Delhi, November, 2006