Post-dusk 'paralysis' hits women's helpline

Most distress calls made at night, but there's hardly any succour
Last Updated 28 April 2014, 19:21 IST

Almost a year-and-a-half after it was launched, the State women’s helpline, ‘Sahaya Vani’-1091, is attending about 400-500 distress calls every day between 8 am and 8 pm. 

Since January 2013, the helpline has rescued 182 distressed females in the age group of 18-59 in various places.

The helpline was launched on January 3, 2013, barely a fortnight after the Delhi gang rape . Most of the calls pertain to domestic violence, eve-teasing cases. 

They are from women belonging to the lower middle-class and upper middleclass.After 8 pm, the calls are diverted to the City Police Control Room. That is where the problem begins as the calls mostly go unanswered. 

Lone staffer

A majority of the incidents occur in the evening and at night. Many times, the calls go unnoticed as there is usually one woman assistant sub- inspector to take care of all the distress helplines, including the ones for children, women and senior citizens. 

“May be, it will help if there is more staff during night to attend these calls,” said a woman police personnel.

A majority of the calls pertain to domestic violence followed by eve-teasing, besides emergency calls.

An attendant told Deccan Herald that many times the members of various NGOs keep calling them to inform them about cases and offer suggestions on how to handle particular cases.

Professional counsellors

Between 8 am and 8 pm, there are four women police personnel who attend to calls and six professional counsellors who take these calls throughout the day. 

There are also many volunteers belonging to various NGOs who work in tandem with the helpline staff and offer guidance and support.

Rani Shetty, coordinator of the helpline, said, “We have been conducting many awareness camps in schools, colleges to popularise the helpline and also make women aware of their rights.

Whenever we get a call from any woman, we call up the zonal control room which, in turn, sends a team with a vehicle to rescue the female. We put her in a stay home if she wishes to and then counsel her after taking her complaint. We guide the women on the future course”.

Rani says that not all calls are serious in nature as many people randomly call them even after petty fights and for non-issues as the helpline is toll free. 

While the helpline is for the entire State, there are staff and infrastructure only in Bangalore. 

“We are able to help very few women in distress in other parts of the State as our resources and manpower are confined to Bangalore.

“However, we do have a network of NGOs in other districts. 

“In emergencies, we provide the names of volunteers and their numbers to the women in need,” she said.

(Published 28 April 2014, 19:21 IST)

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