Delhi helpline for women set up in Nirbhaya's honour may shut

A little over a year after the heinous Delhi gang rape case which triggered nationwide protests over women's safety, a helpline set up for women in distress in the national capital in honour of the victim could soon shut down.

The Times of India reports that the '181' helpline, which receives close to 3,000 calls daily from women in distress, has not paid its employees in two months, and their contracts have not been renewed.

Statistics also show that there has been an increase in the number of women who report cases of sexual assault, stalking and domestic violence, the report.


Representative Image. AFP

Located in a special room in the Delhi Secretariat complex, the helpline has become a central point for women to report distress.

Initially, the helpline was launched only in Delhi, but Union Minister Kapil Sibal said that the central government had decided to allot the '181' number for this purpose to all states.

The importance of the helpline cannot be ignored. Reports say that it became a forum for women to report distress and be directed to the appropriate avenues where they could seek legal help, counseling as well as space to report problems anonymously.

The helpline, reported the Wall Street Journal, had received 88,249 calls in one year, and many calls had led to police complaints and court cases. The extensive use of the helpline would mean that several women would lose the only place they could call if under distress.

After the shocking case where a 23-year-old was gang-raped in Delhi on 16 December, 2012, mass protests pushed the government to make promises of greater protection for women, including stricter anti-rape laws. However the shutting down of the helpline marks a step backward in the government's ability to implement concrete policies to prevent crimes against women.

While the accused were convicted and sentenced to death, as in many cases since, the potential shutting of the helpline means the absence of a forum that became important to several women's safety and sense of security.

Updated Date: Mar 04, 2014 12:39 PM

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