Photo: Dr Ian Cross
Photo: Dr Ian Cross
Treating survivors of sexual and gender-based violence in Delhi

Treating survivors of sexual and gender-based violence in Delhi


Acknowledging a responsibility to respond to the medical needs of people affected by sexual violence, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) inaugurated the Umeed Ki Kiran clinic in November 2015. Since then, the clinic has been providing free, appropriate and timely medical and psychological care to survivors of sexual and gender-based violence besides raising awareness about the immediate need for treatment.

The clinic remains open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and all services are offered free of cost in a friendly and confidential environment by a team of trained and qualified doctors, nurses and counsellors. 

In line with the national protocol, MSF provides quality treatment (treatment of injuries, prevention of HIV/AIDS, unwanted pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases) to survivors of sexual violence, rape, domestic violence throughout the year. In addition, our counsellors offer psychosocial support to reduce the risk of psychological complications which can occur as a result of violence. Referrals for access to other services such as shelters, legal and child welfare etc. are also arranged by MSF.


Raising awareness

For victims and survivors to seek timely and quality treatment, it is important that sexual violence is seen as a medical emergency. Raising awareness in the community on the medical and psychological consequences of sexual violence is central to this project. A team of MSF health educators regularly organises various events and activities in the community to achieve this. 

In March 2016, a community room was opened in the heart of Jahangirpuri to provide an informal and comfortable setting to gather and hold discussions with groups of men, women and youth on various issues such as domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse. This was done through engaging activities like role plays and interactive games presenting them with everyday situations citing problems and encouraging solutions. Street plays, psycho-education sessions and puppet shows were performed throughout the year at various locations in and around Jahangirpuri. The team also addressed these serious issues by illustrating them through relatable stories and presenting them to the community through flipcharts.

Sexual and gender-based violence is an issue that is considered taboo in various communities, leaving survivors stigmatised and unable to discuss their experiences. This further deters survivors from seeking much-needed medical and psychological attention. 

MSF’s medical team also trained 164 accredited social health activists (ASHAs) in identifying signs and symptoms of gender-based violence. As trusted community health workers who serve as an important link between the healthcare system and local populations, they were also trained in talking to survivors in an appropriate way, thereby increasing their ability to help survivors seek medical care. 

MSF also participated in the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence Campaign by UN Women, which began on 25 November (the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women). Interactive games, puppet show, poster making competition and other activities were conducted with women from the community as part of this initiative.


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Updates from the project