Treating torture victims

Promoting medical assistance for victims of torture
Rehabilitating torture victims
Voices Against Torture (VAT) was established in 1988, and represents the first organized and systematic effort to help the country's torture victims. Other VAT programmes or projects include: the Roshni Centre for Women in Crises for women who are victims of torture, violence such as battering and sexual assault, and conflict situations; Children Theatre and Art Group focuses at the rights of children opposing child marriage, child labour, torture in jail, child battering, by fostering an awareness of their rights as children by working with performance arts and encouraging their participation; Children's Hot Line arranges emergency refuges for child victims of violence and torture and counselling; children's interests; VAT's Documentation Centre is an interdisciplinary human rights organization focusing mostly on documenting a list of issues such as medical aspects of torture, disaster psychiatry, and post-traumatic stress disorder. VAT also runs the Rehabilitation and Health Aid Centre for Torture Survivors (RAHAT), which is a rehabilitation and health aid centre in Pakistan for torture victims. It is the first of its kind in the South Asian region. The RAHAT team assesses physical, psycho-social problems of torture survivors and plan therapy sessions and counselling for their rehabilitation. Treatment is confidential, voluntary, and extended to the spouses and children, because of the often traumatic impact on the families of the tortured parties. The methodology of rehabilitation is a combination of institutional and community care. The former integrates psychotherapy, medical care, physiotherapy, and stress tension reduction therapy, and the latter is provided by aiding torture survivors to organize themselves in culturally comfortable groups such as regular discussion groups. The rehabilitation method at RAHAT follows a preliminary interview with a psychologist/social counsellor, then a "customized" treatment plan, and finally follow up visits to RAHAT or of RAHAT to the torture survivors homes from time to time. Treatment methods or environments which may be associated with a victims torture experiences are avoided. For instance, it may be impossible to carry out an ordinary and painless electrocardiogram (ECG), where electrodes are fastened to the body, on a person who has been subjected to electric torture. RAHAT's Torture Monitoring Team visits prisons, police stations, and other areas where torture is indicated. From 1989 to 1994, 3254 torture survivors registered at RAHAT, while 32,931 torture survivors have received therapy sessions at RAHAT.

The International Rehabilitation and Research Centre for Torture Victims (RCT) in Denmark, was founded in 1982, and aims to re-establish the crushed personalities of people who have been tortured. In 1985, RTC helped establish a torture victim rehabilitation centre in Sweden, and an international fund was set up to support the establishment of further rehabilitation services for torture victims. At the end of 1985, RCT had an external network of therapists in Denmark, consisting of 64 general practitioners, 6 psychologists, 5 psychiatrists, one internal medicine specialist and one internal eye specialist. In 1986, RCT founded the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT). One of IRCT's activities includes supporting the establishment and maintenance of rehabilitation services for torture survivors. IRCT coordinates the International Torture Documentation Network. One of its active members, for example, is Voices Against Torture's (VAT) Documentation Centre in Pakistan, which documents the medical aspects of torture, post-traumatic stress disorder, the holocaust, human rights laws, and cross-cultural psychiatry, among others. The Centre is acting as the base for HURIDOCS-ASIA.

Based in Pakistan, the Regional Asian Secretariat for Rehabilitation of Organized Violence (RAS) aims include among others, setting up rehabilitation centres for survivors, and motivating health and other professionals to work for rehabilitation of torture survivors.

Type Classification:
G: Very Specific strategies
Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 3: Good Health and Well-beingGOAL 16: Peace and Justice Strong Institutions