On the occasion of International Women’s Day on Sunday, Chief Minister Anandiben Patel launched the Abhayam-181 women’s helpline and rescue vans across 33 districts. The simultaneous launch of the rescue vans was held in Vadodara’s Sayaji Nagar Gruh at the hands of state Cabinet Minister Saurabh Patel.
The state-wide expansion of Abhayam-181 helpline for women, in association with GVK-EMRI now includes Vadodara, Patan, Chhota Udepur, Kheda, Anand, Dahod, Bharuch, the Panchmahals and Mahisagar with fully equipped rescue vans that would provide toll free 24×7 helpline to support women in distress. The service is already functional in Ahmedabad, Surat and Gandhinagar districts.
Addressing the event via video conferencing, Anandiben Patel said it was time for women undergoing domestic abuse to speak up, even if it means a fight in the family. Anandiben said, “Many women refuse to speak about dowry harassment. Unless you speak how will the government or the police reach you? I urge the women to speak up against dowry harassment even if it means fight in the family. The fight will occur only the first time you speak up.
Then, the family will also be aware that they will be exposed.”
Urging women in distress to use the 181-Abhayam free helpline, Anandi said that women must trust confidentiality. “The helpline will be confidential and anything you say to the helpline will not be revealed to anyone else. That should encourage you to share problems. Do not be afraid of the society or the law,” Anandiben said. The rescue vans include a lady counselor, lady constable and driver would enable immediate assistance for counselling, guidance and information for any woman in distress. Stressing on the need to truly achieve women empowerment and safety, Anandiben said that despite people’s reservations about including women in the police force, Gujarat has become the first state with 33 per cent women cops. “When we first thought of including women in the police force, many questions were raised about their efficiency, strength and ability to work during the nights or fight crime. But today, women form 33 per cent of the police force in the state and they are as efficient and strong as they are expected to be,” Anandiben said.
Anandiben requested village women committees to join in creating awareness about the Abhayam-181 helpline as well as ensuring women’s health and child nutrition. Emphasizing on the need to build toilets to ensure hygiene, she cited the example of the woman from Bihar who left her marital home as her husband failed to construct a toilet. In a lighter vein, Anandiben said, “I do not mean that you also leave your husband if there is no toilet at home. Or, women will (leave their homes) say see she (Anandiben Patel) said so. But building a toilet is a must. The government is committed to giving each family Rs 12,000 to build toilets in 100 per cent homes.
Once the toilets are built, defecating in public will be punished.” Anandiben said it was a matter of shame that many people continue to defecate in the open and on roads. The Women’s Day programme also saw Anandiben Patel felicitating Vadodara-based Squadron Leader Sneha Shekhawat, who led the Air Force contingent in the Republic Day Parade in New Delhi at the Gandhinagar Town Hall.
In Vadodara, Cabinet Minister Saurabh Patel stressed on the need to educate the girl child and said, “Today, girls are receiving education as part of the endeavors of the government. Villagers proudly say that their girls attend schools and in fact, girls outshine the boys in grades and academics. We must encourage the girls.” Saurabh Patel also cited an example of women nurses from Kerala finding top positions in the world’s best hospitals and said, “It is a matter of pride and joy for us that women from our country are traveling places.”