Women's helpline gets 2.14 lakh calls in over 6 months

The 181 women’s helpline, handed over to the Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) in February this year, has received 2.14 lakh calls in the last six months.

 A huge percentage of calls received pertain to cases of domestic violence. The complaints are regularly received for obscene calls, quarrels and disputes, sexual assault, dowry violence, child sexual assault, health related concerns, stalking, rescue operation, missing and kidnapping.

 The helpline was earlier run by the Delhi government’s Women and Child Development Department and was handed over to DCW on February 11, 2016. According to DCW officials, where the mobile helpline used to get 5-10 calls per day before 2016, after the increase in resources, the helpline is receiving 40-50 calls per day on an average.

 There were 14 operators when DCW took over the ‘Women in Distress’ helpline.

 “DCW was shocked to note that a huge number of calls were being abandoned at the time. To eliminate the abandoned calls and ensure that each call is being attended, the number of callers has been increased to 28. This has led to the numbers of abandoned calls dropping immensely,” said a DCW official.

 Trained operators listen to the problems of the complainants and counsel them accordingly. Also, a significant number of calls are received wherein the callers seek advice and information on schemes of government. Based on the urgency and requirements explained by the caller, Police and DCW Mahila Helpline (MHL) counsellors are sent to the victim or complainant.

 The DCW was in a middle of a controversy after its former chairperson and Congress leader Barkha Singh complained to the Anti Corruption Bureau that its current chief Swati Maliwal, practises "nepotism and favouritism" in appointments. Maliwal had rubbished the allegations saying the current staff is needed in her office considering the number of cases the women’s panel handles. Maliwal, along with the Member In-charge Promila Gupta, recently visited the CATS control room and has requested Health Minister Satyendar Jain to integrate 181 with CATS service which has a state of the art software and infrastructure.

“That ways, without much additional costs to the exchequer the 181 helpline’s software and infrastructure would be upgraded significantly,” the official said.

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