Women in distress may now dial ‘181’ for help
IMPHAL, 23rd June: Along with launching a round-the-clock toll free helpline number ‘181’ for women in distress, social welfare minister Nemcha Kipgen has pledged to invoke law of the land to punish those found guilty of causing mental or physical harm to women. Speaking at the launch function held on Friday at Kuranga Nayani hall of Imphal West district deputy commissioner’s office complex, Lamphelpat, minister Nemcha conceded that despite launch of the helpline and initiatives by the government to check violence against women and children the efforts will not bear fruit without cooperation and pro-active involvement of NGOs and public.
Nemcha, however, asserted that as the only woman minister in the state she will not relent from ensuring that any person found guilty of committing crime against women and children face the consequences of their devilish intention and act. Further stating that change in attitude among the menfolk and respect for women will be more effective in checking unwanted incidents faced by the women, she said stringent punishment of the guilty persons will be helpful for the women to feel safe and secured.
On launching of the toll free helpline number ‘181’ for women in distress to seek prompt assistance, Nemcha said: “The Women Helpline is a gift to the women folk of the state to fight against any form of violence against women. The toll free 24/7 telecom services will provide assistance to women affected by violence, seeking support and information will be disseminated regarding various women empowerment schemes and programmes related to women empowerment and protection.”
Through the helpline, women from any part of the state will receive immediate medical assistance like the PCR Van or an ambulance, police, legal aid and ‘one stop centre’ for professional counselling, the minister added. Expressing confidence that the helpline will be able to check crime against women and also to create awareness in times of need, she highlighted that it will facilitate quick response in lodging police complaint as well as availing medical, legal and counselling services for the victimised women.
The minister also called upon the people to extend cooperation and maximum support in making the helpline efficient, effective and purposeful in catering to the various needs and interests of all women. While informing that the helpline will be operational from a room provided by DC, Imphal West, Nemcha confided that a steering and monitoring committee with the principal secretary (social welfare) as chairperson has been constituted for effective and prompt redressal of all issues related to violence against women.
It is also informed that district level committees with the respective deputy commissioner as chairperson have already been activated along with appointing joint secretary of social welfare department as the state level nodal officer. At present, there are seven staff engaged on daily wage/casual basic payment in addition to some other staff including one helpline manager, a senior call responder, four call responders, one IT staff and one multipurpose helper for the helpline.
Moreover, a supervisor and three security officials have also been designated from Imphal West Police station for the helpline. It may be mentioned that under the sponsorship of Ministry of Women & Child Development, the Centre had launched the 181 helpline number in 2013 in the aftermath of the brutal gang-rape of Nirbhaya in December 2012 followed by directives to all states for putting in place similar helpline.
The launch function was jointly organised by Manipur State Commission for Women (MSCW) and Department of Social Welfare, Manipur under the sponsorship of Ministry of Women & Child Development. Among others, MSCW chairperson Dr K Sobita Devi; Principal Secretary (Social Welfare) JC Ramthanga; Director (Social Welfare) Jacintha Lazarus; and DC (Imphal West) N Geoffrey attended the event.