Women’s Helpline (Mahila Helpline) is a unique project aimed at providing immediate relief to women in distress. It is a toll free telephone service for women in need of care and protection.The project was launched on October 1, 2004. Women’s Helpline is sponsored by the Department of Social Welfare, Women & Child Development, Government of Jharkhand while Xavier Institute of Social Service, Ranchi is the implementing agency. CSS, Samadhan, ISSS and THUDA are also associated with the project. Ever since its inception, the Women’s Helpline has received a great number of cases several districts of Jharkhand as well as other states such as West Bengal, Bihar, Delhi, Haryana, Chhatisgarh etc.
Objectives of Women’s Helpline include reaching out to every woman in need of care and protection by responding to emergencies on toll free phone, ensuring connectivity of toll free phone through government telephone exchanges in both urban and rural areas, working together with allied systems/agencies to create women friendly environment, advocacy for women’s rights, providing a platform for NGOs working for the welfare and empowerment of women, and formulating strategies to curb violence against women based on field experience.
Women’s Helpline provides a platform for women to report and register cases of violence committed against them and seek immediate relief, socio-legal and psychological assistance and above all, justice. It works from 7.00 AM till 10.00 PM. Women’s Hipline provide counseling, medical aid, free legal aid and temporary shelter. Women from all income groups approach the Helpline in times of crisis. The Women’s Helpline has successfully resolved significantly large number of cases of domestic violence, sexual abuse, rape, dowry, trafficking, etc. During 2006-07, the Women’s Helpline received 1830 phone calls, took up 381 cases for intervention, settled 200 cases while 59 cases are under observation. During this period, the Helpline closed 122 cases.
Some of the constraints of Women’s Helpline are partial phone connectivity in the rural areas, inaccessibility to remote areas, absence of a full-fledged shelter home for women and difficulty in handling women with psychiatric problems and mental retardation. Sometimes the staff members of Women’s Helpline have to bear the brunt a violent person when the visit the home of the victims to settle the issue. Despite all hardships, they are working with a missionary zeal to create an environment enabling women to lead a dignified life sans any fear.