Slammed by a multitude of complaints about its “181” helpline for women, the Delhi government is training women operators to replace men who have proved “inadequate.”
“We have trained 15 women operators, and they are being put on trial from this evening [that is, Thursday]. In a week’s time, the women’s team will be fully operational,” additional secretary to the Chief Minister Kulanand Joshi told The Hindu. The team of women would be deployed in three shifts of four operators each, along with a floor supervisor. In future, men would be roped in only as a stop-gap measure, and only in daytime hours.
“Earlier, we had six male operators, but that was found to be inadequate,” admitted Mr. Joshi.
That seems to be an understatement.
For example, when a women staffer from the Union Ministry of Rural Development decided to call the helpline to complain about a phone stalker a few days ago, she was in for a rude shock.
“Where do you live? Are you married? Do you live by yourself?” Those were some of the intrusive — and irrelevant — questions posed by the male telephone operator manning the helpline, which was set up by the Delhi Chief Minister’s office in the wake of last month’s gang-rape that has outraged the nation.
“It felt like I was being harassed by this man who was actually supposed to be dealing with my harassment,” said the indignant staffer.