181 Helpline to be integrated with Mahila Panchayat and Mobile Helpline Van

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New Delhi, Feb. 23 (ANI): The 181 Women’s Helpline has been transferred from the Delhi Government to the Delhi Commission for Women.

The Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) has devised a detailed expansion plan for the 181 Helpline.

“Till now 181 helpline has been working merely as a referral helpline that is, since the 181 helpline does not have a grassroots presence, it mostly forwards complaints to police with no alternate means of providing support to the victim. For instance, if the victim calls on 181 to report that the police is not registering an FIR, the Helpline has no option but to tell her to continue dealing with the police,” said DCW Chairperson, Swati Maliwal.

In order to improve this situation, the Delhi Commission for Women has planned to improve the grassroots presence of the 181 helpline.

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It has thus been decided that now 181 helpline will be integrated with DCW’s Mahila Panchayat as well as Mobile Helpline Program.

Mahila Panchayat is an innovative collective approach for community participation in dispute redressal.

The Mahila Panchayats offer crisis intervention and legal aid at community level and help tackle marital disputes and violence against women.

The 24-hour Mobile Helpline provides immediate relief to women in distress, the Helpline counsellor either counsels the people involved in the incident or provides help in registering an FIR or acquire medical assistance for the woman in distress. If required the victim is rescued and often provided temporary shelter.

As an undertaking of the Mahila Panchayat Program an NGO in each Vidhan Sabha will be linked with the Commission, which shall have 3-4 personnel working at the grass root level on the issues faced by women everyday including domestic violence, police inaction etc.

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Complaints received by 181 helpline shall be forwarded to Mahila Panchayat whenever a need arises. At present there are 30 Mahila Panchayat’s functioning in Delhi, this number is now being increased to 70 in order to ensure that there is a Mahila Panchayat in each Vidhan Sabha.

The Delhi Commission for Women has invited NGO’s with noteworthy work to collaborate with the Commission in forming 40 new Mahila Panchayats.

Moreover, 181 Helpline shall be linked to the DCW Mobile Helpline Program. There are currently 5 vans under the DCW Mobile Helpline which is now being increased to 2 vans in each police district.

In case of severe crisis the Mobile Helpline van along with a counsellor recuses the woman in distress and provides immediate assistance, the Mobile Helpline van has been instrumental in successfully rescuing several women in the past.

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From now on, Mobile Helpline van will act as first responders if a caller on 181 helpline requires immediate assistance. The Commission has invited NGOs working at the grass root level to be a part of the Mobile Helpline program.

Presently, the process of strengthening the functioning of 181 is also underway. It has come to the knowledge of the Commission that there is no Statement of Protocol in place to handle complaints. There is no existing mechanism to ensure the accountability of callers and subsequently monitoring them. Furthermore there is also a need for immediate upgradation of software.

Once the 181 helpline is effectively functional and linked with the grassroots expansion, it will be widely advertised as a part of a large scale awareness campaign.(ANI)

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