Helping hand to victims of violence

Last Updated 04 August 2014, 15:52 IST

The helpline works 24x7 in three shifts - each being handled by six people at a time. Since its inception in December 2012, the helpline number has received a total of 9, 79,594 calls, out of which action has been taken on 6, 74,542 calls which were related to dowry harassment, acid attack, sexual assault and domestic violence.

This is ‘181 Women’s Helpline Number’ that registers an FIR following complaints on this number.

Through the helpline number almost 9,000 cases of domestic violence and 14,000 cases of sexual violence have been registered in police stations across Delhi. Undoubte-dly, the number of complaints is increasing as women get more aware of their rights. Metrolife explores how Government and private helpline numbers are fast becoming a saviour for women who are victims of gender and sex-related violence.

“Though 181 is a part of Government machinery, it works very efficiently. Girls who handle calls have a friendly approach towards the victim. These girls ensure to provide a comfortable zone as the sufferer never wants to disclose about the call to her family or abuser. Direct number of the victim is taken or else the contact details of the person whom they rely upon,” says Sudha Tiwari, a social activist and the chairperson of the NGO, Shakti Shalini.

“Only those women call on helpline numbers who don’t want to go to court. And there is another section of women who are already fighting against the abuser in the court but are clueless about the legality of the case,” she says.

Tiwari sounds enthusiastic about the 181 Women’s Helpline Number as she has been indirectly linked to it. Her NGO is providing the facility of a shelter home to the needy or the rescued after they reached the police through the helpline number. “We provide shelter to only those who are in troublesome situations,” says Tiwari.

Rishi Kant, social activist running an NGO Shakti Vahini, however, provides a glimp-se of the modus operandi after the FIR has been registered through the helpline number. He terms the Delhi Commission for Women’s (DCW) role in such cases negligible.

“DCW has turned into a defunct body. Whenever compl-aint against domestic violence or sexual assault is registered by the police, a representative of the DCW has to be present. Surprisingly, and I have noticed this many times, the concerned person is least aware about the laws related to domestic violence. The DCW representative has hardly any expertise and is not even well trained to deal with the victim,” says a critical Kant.

He mentions that at a time of urgency, DCW representatives don’t even reach on time.  “I have personally experienced this. We kept waiting for them for two to three years and when they arrived and were informed about the case, they acted blank,” says Kant.

Monica Joshi, working as a legal expert with Maitri, an NGO that has its own domestic violence helpline number says, “We try to provide solution in three stages. We talk to the victim of violence or assault asking them to go for  counselling. If they don’t want that, then we inform them about the women’s cell where they have to write the comp-laint in writing and follow the other steps. Or else, we provide them legal assistance.”

“The helpline number has a very limited role to play. It is after the victim comes into light that the real battle begins,” says Joshi.

(Published 04 August 2014, 15:52 IST)

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