News : Women Helpline Functions for Only 8 hours a Day in Maharashtra
Mumbai, India, Dec 22, 2015 -- The centralised women helpline number that was proposed for better safety of women after the Delhi gang rape incident has failed to assist women in need as it is functional only between 10 am and 6 pm. Also, none of the one-stop-crisis centres have been connected to the helpline. This, in spite of Mumbai ranking high in terms of the number of criminal cases recorded in India.
The central government announced the centralised helpline number in all states, but it got delayed in Maharashtra. So, in June this year, a fresh announcement was made to start the helpline number in the state. But surprisingly, the helpline functions only between 10 am and 6 pm. There are no call attendants at night.
As per the ministry of women and child development (WCD), the helpline number is to be connected with the one-stop-crisis-centre. In Mumbai, currently, three civic hospitals —KEM, Sion Hospital and Nair — are running such centres for sexually violated women, but none have been linked with the helpline. The reason: A fund of `90 lakh has been proposed for the centre but not a paisa has been released, revealed by officials from the state WCD department. "Only Gujarat and Delhi are running centres supported by the state government. All the states were supposed to be funded from the Nirbhaya fund but until the money is dispersed, we can’t do anything," said an official from the department.
When The Asian Age contacted the WCD department’s principal secretary, Sanjay Kumar, he said that he wasn’t aware about the matter. "I have to look into it. Currently, I am in Nagpur so I will investigate why it is not functioning round the clock after I come back," he said.
The city has recorded a 390 per cent rise in rape cases and 347 per cent rise in molestation cases over the past five years, according to data of Praja, an NGO working for social development.
The helpline’s purpose is to not only help women in distress like the women’s helpline number 103, but also counsel them and disperse knowledge about women-related schemes.
Ujwala Kadrekar, senior programme officer, Women’s Rights Initiative, said that the helpline is functional only on paper. "As per our observation, most of the distress calls come in the evening. Also, the helpline is supposed to be connected with one-stop-crisis centres for psychosocial help. In fact, the current service doesn’t even have trained counsellors," she said. "Many a time, women in need seek professional help. They also get scared while calling 100 or 103, so this helpline might provide an extra help in assisting them," she added.
Gujarat, which started the service in 2014, has received 91,243 calls out of which in 17,197 cases vans were dispatched for rescue, as per data shared by GVK EMRI, which runs the helpline with the government. "In the service, the women are rescued from domestic violence, shifted to a safe place, counselled, provided with legal services," said Anuradha Mall, commissioner of Women and Child, Gujarat.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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Published: Wednesday, December 23, 2015