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Thousands of women who have been victims of violent crimes such as rape and assault will have access to new one-stop support centres thanks to a ground-breaking police project in India.

The project,'Justice for Her',which is a collaboration between Sheffield Hallam University in the United Kingdom and four Indian state police forces aims to improve access to justice for female victims of violence.

The two-year project has been developed to increase access to justice, rights and protection for women and girl victims in the states of Delhi, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh and Punjab through a specialist training programme for police officers.

On the back of the project, the Madhya Pradesh state police force has committed to opening 51 one-stop victim support centres.

At the centres, victims will be able to access crucial services such as medical attention, police liaison, legal advice and counselling, in a safe and comfortable environment and all under one roof. These centres will meet the needs of tens of thousands of vulnerable women and girls every year.

The project will also now mean that training around women's rights and how to deal with victims of violence will be included in the curriculum for all new police recruits in the four states - which could lead to tens of thousands of police officers being trained in gender rights and victimisation every year.

The two major announcements were made at a special event in Delhi, led by Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, an internationally-distinguished barrister, human rights champion and member of the House of Lords in the United Kingdom.

The 'Justice for Her' event was attended by leading police and government officials from across India, as well as officials from organisations such as the UN, British Government and international press.

Baroness Kennedy said: "This is a watershed moment for the issue of gender violence in India.

"The commitment from all partners involved to collaboratively deliver not just improved working practice - but a genuine shift in attitudes towards female victims of violence - is hugely significant and should be applauded.  

"But it is crucial that this project should be recognised as just the start of a very important journey. Violence against women and girls is a global issue which cannot and must be not tolerated. The first step towards tackling this issue is giving sanctuary for those who have been victims of these terrible crimes, whilst also providing the relevant authorities with the skills and power to address the problem with confidence.

Baroness Helena  Kennedy and Suni Toor at the Justice for Her event in India

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Sheffield Hallam University has been working with Indian police and government officials to address this key women's rights issue, with the programme aimed at sharing best practice and experiences to affect change.

The project is led by Dr Sunita Toor of Sheffield Hallam University's Helena Kennedy Centre for International Justice.

Dr Toor said: "The training is creating empowered police officers who have the ability to perform their duties more effectively, without prejudice and discrimination and with a greater understanding of how working in partnership with other agencies can improve justice for victims.

"The project will improve operational practice and prevent fewer victims from pulling out of the criminal justice system and this will contribute to addressing the limited impact of the government’s recent legislation to deal with violence against women and girls.

"This is a unique approach to previous siloed initiatives in India where agencies tended to deal with gender violence in isolation rather than in partnership. We are working with a number of key stakeholders in India. 

"The UK and the project partners have vast experience of establishing successful and sustainable multi-agency partnerships. Our work will target policy and practice and seek long-term change in procedures and training, which in turn will support more effective utilisation of the law."

Click here for more information about the project.

Click here to watch a short documentary about the project.

For press information: Please contact Martin Webb in the Sheffield Hallam University press office on 0114 225 2621 or email