Helplines lend an ear to women

Helplines lend an ear to women

Janodaya runs three helpline centres in the city. Each of them gets 25 to 30 distress calls a month, most of which relate to domestic violence.

Many groups in Bengaluru help underprivileged women with no access to technology or social media. Some feel the #MeToo campaign is only helping the more affluent.

Members of Janodaya, a women empowerment platform in the city, have been working for women empowerment since 1987.

Rani Singh, secretary, says the organisation runs Santhwana, a helpline for women who don’t know where to turn to for help.

“Not everyone knows who to go to. Our helpline provides these details,” she says.

The NGO has three helpline centres, in Jayamahal Extension, M S Building near Vikasa Soudha and Koramangala. 

M Bheemaiah, chief coordinator, says the #MeToo campaign has helped people become confident and reach out for help. 

“But whether the campaign exists or not, we will continue our work. Each of our centres receives 25 to 30 distress calls a month. Most are about women facing assault and domestic violence,” he says.

The callers are mostly in their 30s and 40s. “We get calls from garment workers, government employees and even software professionals,” he says. Some cases are related to property.  

When a complainant approaches the NGO, Janodaya calls the respondent.  

“If he does not respond, we inform the police and they take action accordingly. We have lawyers working with us and they help the complainants,” he explains. 

‘What’s its purpose?’

Revathi Raj, founder of Bheemaputri Brigade, an organisation that works for the rights of women, is sceptical about the #MeToo campaign.

“What purpose is it even serving? It is popular only because it involves celebrities,” she says, stressing that the pain of common men and women must also be heard.

Bheemaputri, with an office in Chandapura, Anekal reaches out to women in distress, she says. “I listen to their miseries and try to help them out,” she told Metrolife.

Revathi says when her group is threatened, she has found support from the police.

“We hosted a dining event at a graveyard during a recent eclipse. Many Hindu organisations threatened me after the event. Some astrologers abused me verbally, saying I had betrayed Hinduism. We were just working towards debunking superstitions,” she says.

She alleges RSS members physically attacked her group of women when it was involved in Kodagu flood relief.

“Though we complained, nothing happened. If any of us had been a celebrity, the scene would have been different,” she says.

Team Bheemaputri says it was also threatened for expressing dissent against Raghaveshwara Bharathi over a girls’ ritual.

“His supporters came after us,” Revathi says.

Ashraya, an organisation in Indiranagar also
receives calls about
domestic violence.

“We help women by finding them jobs. They head for better avenues,” says Shanthi Chacko, curator of Ashraya. 

She personally supports #MeToo. “Women are gathering the courage to come out. This campaign is helping them stand up for themselves,” she says.