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Women in trouble can dial 103 from today

Mumbai: “If the gory images of two women being molested on the road on New Years’ Eve had not been splashed by the media, there’s a chance the police helpline for women may not have been launched today.’’ That’s what deputy chief minister R R Patil had to say while inaugurating the brand new police helpline for victimised women and children in distress on Thursday.
   The toll free helpline number, 103, can be accessed from a cellphone as well as a landline. Specially trained personnel will man the helpline. Several prominent women’s rights groups and activists like Nandita Shah from Akshara, have supported the helpline. Shah, who has worked with women’s issues for over two decades, said that the helpline could reach out to all women facing abuse, whether at home or on the streets.
   Patil assured the police that if ever they were short of resources, the state home department would support the helpline. He even suggested that pamphlets on the helpline be circulated in schools.
   Police commissioner D N Jadhav called it a “historic helpline’’ which would go a long way in benefiting society. “After all, women constitute half the population,’’ he said.
   The cops already run a helpline for senior citizens, which has received 45,000 calls since 2006.
   Patil vowed that the cops would attend to every single woman who called on the helpline. He hoped the helpline would be used not just after the abuse had taken place, but also to prevent abuse. “The helpline will really be a success if a woman calls in and talks of abuse that’s going to happen to her, and the cops are able to rush to the spot and prevent the incident from taking place,’’ said Patil.
   While stressing the need for the helpline, additional chief secretary (home) Chitkala Zutshi spoke of her experience a decade ago, as member secretary of the State Women’s Commission. “I had accompanied the cops on raids in red light areas where minors were rescued and sent to remand homes. Many objected, as their only source of income had been taken away from them. They asked us why we had rescued them when they were 16 years old and not when they were eight or 10 and had been forced into the trade,’’ she said.

MAN’S WORLD: Dy CM R R Patil with outgoing commissioner of police D N Jadhav during the launch of the helpline on Thursday