Women subjected to sexual harassment and/or abuse in work place, and those suffering due to domestic violence can henceforth count on public support. Tiruchi-based People's Development Initiatives (PDI) has started a Women Support Centre to offer counselling to suffering women and address their problems. The PDI has extended in Tiruchi the initiative it has been carrying out in Salem. Legal guidance and counselling is being offered at Salem through an advisory committee consisting of advocates and journalists, PDI chief functionary Ambalavanan said, adding that in Tiruchi, the initiative was earlier confined to the 15 slums in which the PDI has been working.

The Tiruchi Centre will function through a Committee comprising advocates and senior academics. While affected women always have the option of approaching the police department and courts, the Centre will serve the counselling needs of those who hesitate to approach the official system in the first instance, Mr. Anbalavanan said.

The idea for starting the Women Support Centre in Tiruchi was mooted during December 2009 when the Rajya Sabha Member N. Siva interacted with participants of a Women's Convention organised by the PDI, he said.

The Centre was launched on Monday as part of the International Women's Day celebrations by Academic Director of Anna University - Tiruchi Puratchikodi in the presence of Inspector of Cantonment All Women Police Station Maragatham Charles.

Dr. Puratchikodi exhorted the participants mostly comprising women of Self Help Groups not to believe in the notion that women were responsible for crimes against their own ilk.

It was the society that turned women against women, she felt. The Inspector called upon women to immediately bring to the notice of the police instances of eve-teasing in public places or buses. Not responding to such acts by mischief-mongers would be tantamount to abetting the crimes, she said.

The participants numbering about 400 assembled at Beema Nagar after taking part in a rally that was flagged off by Mayor S. Sujatha from the Corporation. They raised awareness slogans and carried placards.

Women in need of moral and legal support can contact the PDI gender counsellors on 94895 71790.