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News : Distressed Women Discover Helpline
Dehradun, Nov 24, 2014 -- Seated calmly in front of four women in a small room is a lone lady officer, who patiently listens to their grievances and assures them of justice. She takes down notes and tells them to come back with their husband or in-laws for counseling. Housed in the SSP office is a small workplace for officers managing the women helpline, an initiative which is nothing short of a blessing for women in distress. On International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, TOI visits the women helpline office and finds out how the officers deployed here work tirelessly to upkeep the confidence in women.
Even a brief stay at the office suggests that the helpline (0135- 2716239) is flooded with complaints. Officers present here say that ever since the initiative was launched in 2004, they have been enduring a hectic routines. As per records, till November 23 this year, 1,870 complaints have been registered. The helpline has four lady constables and a station in charge who take care of 15 to 20 cases each day.
Most of the women who climb the steps of women helpline office have been through exploitation either by their husbands or the in-laws. "80% of the cases that we get here are of those women who want to end their marriages as they are not happy with their life. In most cases, the husband has either gone ahead with a second marriage or is involved in an extra marital affair. About 10% cases are related to dowry," said Deepika Rana, station in charge. 10% cases relate to dowry.
"Most of the dowry cases are reported from well-to-do families. Dowry harassment is very much prevalent here among the rich, but few women actually come to us for help," added Rana, while mentioning that the remaining 10% cases comprise of harassment at workplace or cyber crime.
The cases that are registered with the women helpline via telephone or in person are given a hearing date when both the parties are counseled. After two or three counseling sessions, if either of the party is not ready to close the case, it is given an option of filing for a divorce with the court or approaching the police.
For domestic violence victims, the state has a special women protection force under the Domestic Violence Act that reaches to women in distress. The number 1090 can be dialed from anywhere and the women protection officer of that area reaches within minutes. Dehradun has six women protection officers in each block. As per officials, till now over 1,500 cases have been registered.
"The women in the state are unaware of these facilities and often fail to seek help in such cases. The ones who are aware are too reluctant to come forward and speak about their personal lives," said Ramindri Mundrawal, former women protection officer, Dehradun.
Another problem highlighted by experts is the non-cooperative staff working at these offices. Ramindri added, "When a woman comes and complaints about her husband, she needs to be supported. The process should involve compassion and empathy."
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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Published: Tuesday, November 25, 2014