181 Women Helpline
181 Women Helpline (WHL) is an emergency helpline for women established by the Union Ministry of Women and Child Welfare. In Kerala, it is managed by Kerala State Women Development Corporation (KSWDC). The scheme was initially set up by the Central Government of India in 2012.
181 Helpline is envisioned to provide 24x7 support and assistance to women affected by violence and other forms of harassment, both in private and public spaces. The major aim of the scheme is to bring together various support systems for women under a single roof. The WHL also works towards facilitating crisis and non-crisis interventions through referral to the appropriate agencies such as police, hospitals, legal services, OSC (One Stop Centre) scheme. Two major tasks of the scheme is to deal with Violence Against Women (VAW) prevention and Women Empowerment.
- Violence Against Women prevention is achieved through referral to the concerned aid providers such as police station, hospital, ambulance service, OSC etc.
- For Women Empowerment, information regarding various schemes, laws and programmes are made accessible and manual assistance is provided to access the same with the help ofconcerned authorities.
There are specially trained Call Responders in every helpline centers who attends each and every call with utmost care and patience and do primary referral. According to the seriousness of the call, the cases can be forwarded to the Supervisor or to Senior Call Responder to furtherize on the case. 181 is a toll-free number that can be accessed from all telecommunication services either through call or SMS/text message. The scheme is entitled to ensure confidentiality on the identity and details provided by the caller.
The scheme is funded through Nirbhaya Fund of Central Govt. that enebles free support to the women in distress. WHL will take up all sorts of harassment on women. Harassing women on social networking sites, which includes cyber rape and defaming, which is increasing on an alarming rate recently will also be attended by WHL. In such cases WHL will either contact the social networking site directly or the complaint will be forwarded to the cyber crime cell for investigation.
The helpline will have a human rights consultant at every helpline center who would provide tele-counselling and support to women in distress. Helplines are equipped with feedback system that ensures the quality and effectiveness of their services. Details about the nearby shelter homes, short stay homes and rehabilitation centers can also be accessed through 181 helpline.
Easy accessibility is one of the key features of the scheme. The helpline is fundamentally envisioned as an aid for creating a society with gender equality. And to provide an environment for women to fight back oppression, violence and any forms of harassment.