There are gaps in the functioning of women’s distress helpline 181 and measures are being taken to address them, said Delhi government on Thursday.
According to a recent analysis of the data of calls received by the helpline in the month of November, almost 50 per cent of calls were recorded as “blank and irrelevant”.
“We will revamp the women’s distress helpline 181 as at present there are few gaps in its functioning which needs to be addressed to make it more effective,” said Ashwini Kumar, Secretary of Women and Child Development and Social Welfare department.
“Awareness among people about the role of the the helpline 181 is poor. So we will launch periodic campaigns to make people aware about the role of the 181 helpline which is basically to provide help to women in immediate distress,” explained Kumar.
“There has to be professionalism in the helpline and also adequate infrastructure. We need to strengthen the helpline in terms of providing counselling and legal helps for which we will add more specialised staff to add to current number of staff managing the helpline,” he explained.
According to Kumar, the staff managing the helpline has to be trained enough to understand whether a call made to the helpline requires police help or counselling.
“Also the interface with police has to be improved,” he said.
Also the department is in the process of developing an App which will be linked to the helpline.
“Currently students of IIITs are working on this they have shown us a prototype. Data services is not required to make it functional. The app will help in pre-registration, reporting of obscene calls and distress signalling as well as help track the location of the caller,” the official said.
The department is also planning to integrate the helpline 181 with the one stop-crisis centres which are functioning and have been set up by Central government.
“If a staff receiving the call thinks that the person at the other end needs counselling or a different kind of help, they could be referred to these centres,” said an official of the department.
The idea is that people could approach the centres through through various routes, it could be through 100, 181 or they can directly go to the hospital where these centres are functioning.
Also Mental Health Units have been set up in partnership with NGOs at children, women and juvenile homes for providing counselling. The department has initiated to set up four special training centres through Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan to bring the orphaned children into the mainstream.
A monitoring committee has also been set to check the quality of services provided. The Committee comprises members from Institute of Human Behaviour and Allied Sciences (IHBAS), AIIMS and Delhi University.