Gone are the days when the oppressed rural women of Rajasthan had to take things lying down and tolerate domestic violence, sexual abuse, forced abortions, dowry harassment, or their drunkard husbands.
An Udaipur based NGO “Jatan” working on the issues of migration, education of school dropouts, women empowerment, health and local self government since 2001, grappled with the idea of setting up a helpline for women. There are two such help lines functioning in Rajasthan, but none in southern Rajasthan.
The proposal of creating a helpline was discussed in the quarterly meeting of the women Panch Sarpanch attended by as many as 143 women from different parts of south Rajasthan .The estimated cost of installing the software was a whooping Rs 45000. The rural women, most of whom were uneducated took the bold decision to fund 50% of the cost” informed the centre head of “Jatan”. Encouraged by their initiative Dr. Kailash Brijwasi the Director of Jatan agreed to foot the bill for the remaining 50%.
The Officials of Jatan discussed the matter with different software developers and finally negotiated with Gati Software of Jaipur, who agreed to prepare the software at 50% discount, within a time period of three months. This software will have special features like recording all incoming calls, which will be used as legal evidence, and maintaining personal details of the woman callers in distress.
The helpline was inaugurated by the district collector Dr.P.B. Yashwant by making the first call on the helpline number 9352004003 Expressing satisfaction at this unique venture he said “women coming forward to help women has give a concrete shape to Mahatma Gandhi’s concept of Gram Swaraj.” The district Superintendent of Police Dr. Ramdev Singh assured that the Police department will be always ready to assist the helpline and take timely action.
The punch line of the helpline will be “Be aware, be alert and be confident,” The women members of the Panch Sarpanch Sangathan are self dependent and do not take help form their husbands or family members. Mrs. Geeta Ragar, President of the Mahila Panch Sarpanch Sangathan, Relmagra Said that women members will be deputed to attend the helpline on shift basis and also provide counseling services.
The popularity of the helpline can be gauged from the fact that in within three weeks of its launching, a record of 145 calls have been received.People and organisations from other states are calling up,to know the details ,as they want to start something similar there.The fragrance of success is spreading in all directions!
(The above success story has been written by Maj Pradeep Khare based on interviews with the Centre Head of Jatan and Mrs Geeta Regar)