News : Women Helpline Staff Get 60 to 70 Indecent Calls
May 13, 2014 -- Those manning the Delhi government’s "Women in Distress" 181 helpline have themselves been receiving about 60 to 70 indecent calls from unknown callers every day. Of the 2,000 odd calls received by 181 each day, as many as one-third of these are from women who are stalked in the city. Of late, the helpline has also started receiving 15 to 20 calls a day from women in distress from the other states.
Started as a helpline for women facing violence after the Nirbhaya rape case shook the conscience of the entire nation, 181 has been directly reporting to the chief minister’s office and is being looked after by the public grievances monitoring system.
The government is planning to bring it under the ambit of its social welfare department. The 21-member helpline, headed by women rights activist Khadija Faruqui, has also reported the matter about the indecent calls to the local police. It is learnt that the helpline gave the details about those callers who had been frequently bothering its staff at odd hours to the police. A case has already been registered and investigations are on.
The 24x7 helpline, which operates in three shifts, often receives indecent calls from unknown callers. "An elderly man often calls us at about 10 pm and goes on and on till 2 am. Some times he uses very abusive language against a particular Congress leader. He even reads Hanuman Chalesa," a woman working at the helpline told this newspaper. Asked when was the last occasion he had called up, she said with a smile on her face, "For the past one week he hasn’t called up. We have started missing him."
Another helpline employee said a young boy had often been bothering them. "He gives a lot of missed calls. But when we threaten him that the matter would be reported to the police, he immediately disconnects the phone line."
It is not only the indecent calls which have been bothering the helpline staff. The helpline reportedly gets all sorts of calls with people enquiring about railway reservations, location of particular dhabhas and inflated mobile bills. "We have to attend to each and every call. And we try our best to help each caller," another helpline employee said.
Statistics show that the helpline has received about 8 lakh calls since December 31, 2012. Of these, it reportedly answered about 5.5 lakh calls.
Sources said that the maximum number of calls received by the helpline were from women who were being stalked in the city. Asked how they follow up these complaints, she said, "We report the matter to the anti-stalking cell of the local police. About serious threats, we directly talk to the local police officers. We also seek help of some NGOs in some cases."
What has surprised the helpline staff is the fact that they have started receiving calls from other states as well.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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Published: Thursday, May 15, 2014