The recent case of the three-and-a-half-year-old girl child who was allegedly raped by her father, French Consulate official Pascal Mazurier, brings into focus the role of collaborative child response units (CCRUs) in such situations.

The aim of a CCRU is to have a single coordinated unit for quick justice. Kushi Kushalappa, Coordinator for the CCRU project, Enfold Proactive Health Trust, cites the example of the examination done on the Mazurier child. It was conducted in a clean and aseptic environment in a private room at the CCRU at the Bangalore Baptist Hospital here unlike in a State-run unit. Ms. Kushalappa explains: “The aim of the CCRU is to provide sensitive yet effective care for child sexual abuse victims with a multi-disciplinary team approach. Our aim is to bring all the stakeholders involved, which include doctors, lawyers, police, judiciary and social workers in a non-threatening environment.”

Given the crucial role CCRUs have, Bangalore has only two of them. Why so? One of the reasons cited is: “If you allocate a room for the unit, it might get wasted if there is nobody to use it.” This comes from Indira Gandhi Institute of Child Health director Shivananda, whose hospital completed the required CCRU training for its staff last year, but the unit has not been set up yet.

With other public and private hospitals not according any priority to treat child sexual abuse cases, people have just two options if they want trained diagnosis and treatment for a child victim — Bangalore Baptist Hospital and M.S. Ramaiah Hospital, both private, and not the kind of hospitals that are the first choice for the underprivileged sections of society.

C.R. Chandrashekar, Professor of Psychology, National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences said: “Victims suffer from various problems such as behavioural abnormalities, psychiatric problems and tend to be emotionally unstable.”

Health experts say apart from providing emotional support to the victim, CCRUs will encourage reporting of abuse.

As Dr. Saldanha put it: “Right now [families] are more worried about the child and tend to [not prioritise] catching the abuser.”

In January 2011, the Karnataka State Commission for Protection of Child Rights sent a proposal to Health Secretary to set up six CCRU in the city’s six zones.

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