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Updated: October 6, 2009 20:00 IST

Gender Help Desks for women’s safety during Games

Staff Reporter
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Commonwealth Games 2010 logo 'shera' in New Delhi on Tuesday.
Commonwealth Games 2010 logo 'shera' in New Delhi on Tuesday.

Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit on Tuesday announced gender help desks would be set up to address safety concerns of women during the Commonwealth Games in the city next year.

Speaking after introduction of a gender help desk by the Delhi Commission of Women at Delhi Secretariat, Ms. Dikshit said women, who are integral to any event in diverse capacities, have some special needs.

“These needs have to be addressed and redressed. Gender help desks under the DCW would be established at entry points like airports, railway stations, inter-State bus terminals, all sports stadiums and the Commonwealth Games Village.”

The Chief Minister said addressing gender was not only about providing support services, it was also about gender appropriate behaviour. “We need to work with a large number of support agencies to ensure that everybody is aware of respecting the rights of women, their rights to privacy and their right not to be touched in an inappropriate manner. Gender appropriate behaviour also includes ensuring uses of appropriate language in the presence of women.”

Ms. Dikshit urged the DCW to include this in their programme of sensitivity and also involve the youth and civil society in this initiative.

“There is a need to have synergised intervention on this subject with all the departments concerned. Addressing gender is the responsibility of everyone. We need to understand our roll in this initiative and ensure that those are addressed.”

The Chief Minister said: “We need a lot of cooperation from the police during the Games. Law and order is essentially a police subject. However, women’s issues take a different slant and hence routine police methods will have to be altered bringing in sensitivity in handling the problems.

Therefore synergised efforts by the DCW and the police can bring in good results. We have had a few very unfortunate shameful incidents of women tourists being sexually assaulted by taxi drivers and others. These security concerns have to be addressed. We have to create data-base of taxi service providers, so that each transport facility is made accountable for safety. The advantage of creating such a database will also provide security against others mishaps like robbery.”

Stating that the objectives of gender help desk was not only to promote safety of women but also guide other stakeholders in maintaining appropriate conduct during the Games, the Chief Minister said a toll-free number would also available 24 hours for distress calls. “These desks would work in collaboration with hospitality service providers, police, embassies and resident commissioners of other States.”

Ms. Dikshit said two weeks before the Games, the help desks will start functioning at all the locations. “The desk will be operated by trained staff and would be operational 24 hours at entry points and 16 hours at the stadiums. The desk will have information about services available, emergency transport facility, access to emergency shelters, access to emergency medical care, access to the police.”

The Delhi Commission for Women chairperson Barkha Singh, Delhi Chief Secretary Rakesh Mehta, DCW member secretary P.M. Singh and members of various non-government organisations were also present on the occasion.

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