In times of Covid crisis, Women Help Line 181 lead the way in J&K
Jammu Links News12/2/2020

JAMMU: While the Covid 19 pandemic has brought the entire world to a standstill and has not only further widened the deeply entrenched gender inequalities in our society but has also invisiblised issues of women and girls, an organization is silently working towards making lives of women of conflict-hit region of Jammu and Kashmir better.

With no immediate solution in sight for combating Covid 19 which has deeply impacted the women and girls of Jammu and Kashmir, Women Helpline-181, a scheme of Ministry of Women and Child Development, Govt of India and program of Department of Social Welfare, Govt. Of J&K, has emerged as the only ray of hope for hundreds and thousands of women and girls in this region who have been caught in the web of domestic violence, dowry abuse, mental torture, sexual assault, eve teasing, cyber-crime, child sexual abuse, rape etc.

In the absence of any government bodies to help the women of Jammu and Kashmir since August 2019 when the J&K Women Commission was shut down after it was given the status of Union Territory, the Women Helpline - 181, which is managed and implemented by Aman Satya Kachroo Trust (AmanMovement.Org) under public private partnership model, has been engaging over 400 calls on daily basis since corona pandemic started.

"The average number of calls on our helpline in lockdown period of April-September went up by nearly 100 percent against average number in pre-lockdown period," informs Purnima Dhar, Manager women Helpline 181 adding that between April and June, they responded to and represented more than 2500 calls pertaining to ration supplies and other essential needs from migrant & non-migrant workers alone.

Between April-September 2020, Women Helpline registered 922 complaints of women in distress, the number is nearly 80% higher compared to the same period of previous year. Out of total 619 complaints registered for domestic violence, 317 complaints were registered from April to June 2020 while 302 were registered from July-Sept. 2020. Five complaints were received In the matter of POCSO and Sexual Violence. A total of 47 complaints were received in the matter of Cyber Crime and Obscene Calls. About 115 cases were registered for Social Welfare Support.

The rise in complaints must not be only credited to pandemic impact alone but also to the lot of national buzz and state advertisements of 181 WHL for women in distress. The inference here is that, the rise in awareness will lead to more women coming forward and reporting the incidents of violence and injustice. The scheme of Women Help Line (WHL) is designed in a way that girls and women in distress can have access to justice, welfare and government by dialing a 3-digit toll-free number 181.

"Our performance during COVID period of 6 months since its outbreak is exceptional. WHL 181 helped allotment of lawyers in 138 complaints through various District Legal Services Authority. In 192 complaints, we engaged with Police and 63 complaints were sent to Protection Officers under PWDVA (Protection of Women from Domestic Violence act), " informs Ms Dhar, Manager Women Helpline 181 adding that 60 Domestic Incident Reports were created by WHL & integrated OSC centers.

The State Legal Center of Integrated system of Women Helpline / OSCs drafted 72 petitions under PWDVA for the above period and in total 49 cases under PWDVA were filed across various districts of J&K and Ladakh whereas in 34 cases ex-parte interim relief for protection, residence, counseling or maintenance was given by the magistrates in favor aggrieved women. Nearly 400 women who regd. complaint under PWDVA did not give consent for legal proceedings. Many of these complaints were later referred to respective OSCs & FCCs for counseling. 

In total 316 complaints were referred to Integrated and Non Integrated One Stop Centers for specific assistance. Women Helpline organized medical assistance/ MLC in 12 complaints and long term shelter in 3 cases of Srinagar, Jammu andPoonch during the above period.

TheAmanSatya KachrooTrust develops systems and software to execute the scheme as per guidelines and to put data and monitoring mechanism in place by using advanced web-based Management Information System. 

The scheme is further integrated with District Level One Stop Centers (Srinagar, Leh and Jammu) and NALSA 15100. The vision is to further integrate the systems of Mahila Shakti Kendra, Childline, 112, University Legal Aid Clinics , Women's Study Centers and Women's Commission, thereby also integrating resources and data of all schemes designed to meet common objective of welfare of girl child and women.

Women's Helpline 181 service is operational for Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh since October 2017. In these three years of its operation, a lot has been achieved and a lot could not be. 

A lot has been learnt and a lot has been taught. Since its inception, Women Helpline- 181 has consciously been instrumental in delivering value and service by not just co-coordinating with stake holders responsible to aid and deliver justice to women affected by violence but also by activating the agencies and system often in interest of these women. 

That is to say that Women Helpline 181 does not follow conventional culture of referral but works on the principle of representation.




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