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Helpline for women closes in MP, activists cry as calls begin to be diverted


The highly publicized 1090 Women’s Helpline launched seven years ago in Madhya Pradesh to report crimes against women and help women in distress has stopped working and calls are being diverted to Police Control Room 100.

Now, police personnel are planning to develop the 1090 helpline as the Next and Final Response (NFR) number to track rapes and other heinous crimes against women, a police officer said.

Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan had introduced the helpline after the Nirbhaya gang rape case in Delhi in January 2013, so that the woman in trouble could contact the police at any time.

“The helpline was for prevention. After shutting down the 1090 Women’s Helpline, which was run by the Crime Against Women Cell, the number was diverted to the Dial 100 first responder last year, which also doesn’t go online very often. . Previously, the helpline helped many women, especially those who did not want to file an FIR for sexual harassment and stalking, but now women have no option to prevent crime, ”said a police officer, who did not want to be identified. .

According to data from Crime Against Women Cell, from 2013 to 2018, up to 1.20 lakhs of complaints were received on the women’s helpline and 40% were related to harassment over phone calls that the helpline solved alone with a warning.

Activists have expressed dissatisfaction with the closure of the women’s helpline.

Rolly Shivhare, a women’s rights activist, said: “The helpline was introduced to provide a platform for women where they could share their problems related to harassment on the road, public transport and at home. The aim was to help women who were unwilling to register a criminal case with the police due to social or family pressure. Even the staff had been trained to deal with these cases and the staff used to provide counseling to the victims. Staff also used to warn bullies. Sometimes if a woman used to give a missed call to 1090, the staff used to return the call. But with the disruption of the helpline, the whole system collapsed. ”

“Most women need help at the level of harassment, not after the crime is committed. It is good that the police are planning to develop a monitoring and feedback system that will improve surveillance and speed up the investigation. But it will not prevent crime in the first step like stalking and that often turns into heinous crimes like rape and murder. The police must work for prevention, ”said Prathna Mishra, another women’s rights activist.

The additional general director of the police (crime cell against women), Deepika Suri, said: “We are not receiving direct calls, but we are receiving comments from victims of atrocious cases to learn about their experiences in the police station. We ask them if they are satisfied with the police action or not ”.

“The 1090 update will soon be taken as the next and final answer to track every heinous case of crimes against women so that the investigation can be completed in two months. The updated system will also guarantee trauma counseling and legal support to the victim until conviction is obtained, ”he added.

MP’s Director General of Police (DGP) Vivek Johri said: “The helpline is working to receive comments on egregious cases, but number 1090 is still working. Due to some problem of the operator of the telecommunications company, there is a connectivity problem. “

“The state government is sensitive to women’s issues and the chief minister himself asked us to follow up on every heinous case of crimes against women. The women’s helpline will be updated soon. ”

Hindustan Times