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Is there really any helpline available for women in India?

Last week I got a call from a close family member who lives in a relatively middle sized town up north, getting a call from her at that odd hour was definitely bit surprising. But after picking up the phone, came to know the urgency. Her neighbor was in deep trouble and desperately seeking some official help, it was yet another case of domestic violence which she has been going through for years now but that night things had crossed their limits. She tried to contact local police station but apparently the husband being rich & influential had managed things in his favor. My relative asked me if I know of any such helpline or can I find one from internet and send her the numbers else that lady might not be even alive till next morning. Both me & N started to google such numbers frantically and within few minutes we were able to get many links and pages on women related helpline as well as NGOs against domestic violence like this, this, this & this. Quickly we called back & passed on all the numbers to the concerned person, only to get a call back in 15 minutes saying none of the numbers were being picked up including the Govt. 1091 one! We wondered as some of the numbers had “24x7 helpline” prefixed to them but still no response! That lady was crying on other side of the phone & we were left with no other option than to say some sympathetic words to her. But still there was this faint hope that maybe next morning she might be able to get through at least few of them.

Next day I spoke to this relative asking if her neighbor got any help, she responded back in a sad “no”; in fact the lady was beaten badly by her husband that night and went through hell lot of physical torture. Now some relatives had come to sort out the matter and asked neighbors to not interfere in husband-wife relationship with the same clichéd logic – doosre ke ghar mein aaplog mat boliye, pati-patni ka maamla hai, aapas mein suljha lenge. Phew, when relatives interfere we know how much the decision would be in favor of that lady :(.

But the fact that none of the numbers were reachable / contactable left me totally amazed. Out of curiosity I myself started to check out on some numbers, dialed many including 1091 to see the response & well despite repeated rings nobody picked the phone at all. Dismayed I spoke to few of my friends asking if they know of any number which a woman can call in India in case of any such urgency and nobody knew of even one responsible number at all. I also read lots of coverages on women related helpline in different states, NGOs, online initiatives like “Bell Bajao” etc but what left me surprised was the actual execution of all these initiatives and on ground presence of such bodies. Out of all these I definitely found “Bell Bajao” website & wiki page to be bit helpful but then aren’t those info actually limited to internet savvy women who can surf internet & read them online? What about those women who are not online, who are not from metro cities & are not educated enough to write mails etc to NGOs? Now this was a case of domestic violence, how about instances of stalking, theft, rapes etc.? Can help arrive at the moment of need? Is there really any authentic helpline for women? I’ve no answer…In case you know of any such number or have got help from concerned authorities in times of need, do share your experiences along with contact details of such helping authorities. If I get some details, I would definitely like to compile such list & pass it onto all the women I know.

12 comments :

Varun said...

That's really very shameful. Police is not doing anything, that's consistent, but then these helplines, i mean if somebody has put up such a helpline and it's not accessible to the needy, it's a 'dhokha', liable to prosecution. Very shameful, what have we become.

lostmermaid said...

its a sad situation .. most times none of the helpline numbers are working ! same is with many address or mail ids too :(

Renu said...

I have always felt the need to do this, may be in every city, thats what once I recommended to Chokher Bali ( blog for women's welfare) also, sadly nobody takes anys erious step, once I saw a few nos inFemina and I posted a few on my blog also.

ani_aset said...

Hey kanupriya. It's sad. do you know about fightback?
The group is there on facebook and also here

http://www.fight-back.net/

they claimed to have checked the numbers. Hope this helps

The Survivor said...

Its real sad how some people can get away with such acts.

When it comes to issues such as this, our govt. state is pathetic. Just recently I had seen the news about a daughter-in-law in Delhi contacting the authorities that her in-laws were planning to kill her. Even on the fateful day she had made the call that they were all prepared. By the time the police arrived, she was dead!!

Tarun Goel said...

Bad and Sad :(

Smita said...

:-(

Not aware of any such helpline but not surprised with the sorry state of affairs!!!!

Have so much to say but can not :(

रश्मि प्रभा... said...

kitaabi hai, kahne ko kanuni bhi....par rich hona mayne rakhta hai,uske baad pahunch......rona aur phir ek doosri kahani kahna stree ki vivashtaa hai....

Nandhini said...

When I saw "bell bajao" campaign on TV i was quiet happy to see issues previosuly never spoken about being raised and supported... But then reading your post also makes me say Ofcouse what do u expect We are in India! Why not have a local police station number at hand? I am sure they would send a cop incase it was something really serious...

It's disgusting that these men beat their wives and It's more disgusting that the community turns a blind eye to it!

Btw, out of curiosity I wonder how of us here would knock on the abusive neighbours door ask him to cut it out!

Abhishek said...

May be u could have said "Is there any helpline for anyone". Every other organization claims to have a dedicated helpline, and this is what most of them actually turn out to be!

verbivorehere said...

its such a shame..why does the lady have to suffer ths at all? why cant she just walk away..i guess it is our society that first makes life impossible for women..all social numbers for help wudnt be there when time arises! it is our outlook towards the "Indian Naari" that needs to change i guess!!

tellmeyourdreams said...

kanu i am glad u highlighted this issue. you know a survey reported 5 in 10 women marred by domestic violence. neither the childlines nor the women helplines (except a few) work. CINI has a child line in kolkata but yes you can not access these emergency lines in wee hours.
a lot of behaviour change still needs to done at the family level where even if the woman is self-dependant she still bears with the man's maniac behaviour. i really dont know the exact cause of this submission but probably it is the fear of society...

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