DCW to handle distress helpline

DCW to handle distress helpline

Days after differences between AAP government and women’s distress helpline Chief Khadija Farooqui came in the open, the helpline was handed over to the DCW by Delhi government’s Women and Child Development department on Thursday.

The plan of transferring the 181 helpline to the Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) was in the pipeline since some months and it was finally handed over on Thursday.

“For better integration of 181 helpline with affairs connected to safety of women, today it has been transferred to Delhi Commission for Women,” tweeted Women and Child Development Minister Sandeep Kumar.

The announcement comes at a time of an ongoing tussle between Farooqui and the Aam Aadmi Party government.

The women’s helpline chief was issued a show cause notice recently to explain why she had not been maintaining her biometric attendance regularly and attending to her day-to-day affairs. Following this, Farooqui staged a protest outside Central Secretariat on Tuesday and highlighted the issue of shortage of staff in comparison to the number of calls received.

She also alleged that she was discriminated against by the department after she brought financial irregularities to the notice of the director of the WCD Ministry.

Resignation denied
On Thursday, an official of the department said Farooqui has resigned from her post after the show cause notice and the helpline has been handed over “completely” to the DCW.

However, Farooqui declined the reports of her resignation and said that the decision to hand over the helpline was taken “hurriedly to divert attention from the ongoing controversy”.

“All the files have been sent to the commission. The WCD department will only provide the funding and the administration work will be carried out by the DCW,” the official said.

Incidentally, the government officials had recently said the plan of handing over the helpline is stuck as the DCW has limited infrastructure and manpower. The commission had also written to the government for providing adequate funds and resources for its efficient functioning.

However, the helpline will for now function from its current office only. DCW Chairperson Swati Maliwal Jaihind on Thursday said the commission’s main focus would be to expand the role of the helpline which currently acts only as a referral body.

“The cases are presently just being referred to 100. We want to expand that role and make the helpline best in the country. However, it is a long process,” she said. “During our recent visit there, we also found that the helpline is not functioning properly and people working there don’t know how to follow up on complaints. So we need to improve a lot of things and publicize the helpline,” she told Deccan Herald.

The helpline was set up by Sheila Dikshit’s government after the December 16 gang-rape.

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