Chitra V. Ramani

Vanita Sahaya Vani, which was set up in 1999, supports women in distress

The helpline has not received funds from the Central Social Welfare Board for the past two years Former Minister Nafees Fazal has promised to take up the matter with the officials concerned Chief Minister urged to sanction land for construction of short stay home

Bangalore: Vanita Sahaya Vani, a helpline set up in 1999, offers support to women in distress. It has so far helped hundreds of women by way of counselling, immediate rescue, family counselling and rehabilitation.

Speaking to The Hindu, Hema Deshpande, counsellor in-charge of Vanita Sahaya Vani, said the helpline, which came under the Family Counselling project, had not received funds from the Central Social Welfare Board for the past two years.

Proposal

"We had also submitted a proposal to the Department of Women and Child Development seeking funds. That proposal is pending," she said.

Ms. Deshpande said Nafees Fazal, MLC and former Minister, had promised to take up the matter with the officials concerned.

Distress calls

She said that the helpline received calls, sometimes even late in the night, from women seeking help.

"With the assistance of volunteers and women police, we rescue the distressed women. They may sometimes need to be kept at short stay homes. The helpline does not have a short stay home of its own. These women are taken to such facilities that are within the city limits," she said.

The helpline has a network with a few short stay homes in the city.

Women who require temporary shelter are taken there, she said.

"The helpline usually takes the distressed women to Abhaya Ashram in Wilson Garden, Abhala Ashram in Shivajinagar or Mahila Dakshata Samiti in R.T. Nagar. It would be good if the helpline had its own short stay home. That way, we can work independently and would not have to depend on others," she said.

She said that on an average at least eight women were sent to these short stay homes in a month.

"It is not only women. If the women have children aged below six, they cannot be separated from them. So, they are also admitted to the homes. If they are slightly older, we coordinate with the Makkala Sahaya Vani and take action accordingly," she said.

Varalakshmi of Abhaya Ashram said that on an average, the Vanitha Sahaya Vani admits at least three women in a month. "We let the women stay up to a year. We also offer counselling. Sometimes, the helpline calls on the women and offers counselling," she said.

Recently, Ms. Nafees Fazal spoke about the plight of women in the city in the Legislative Council.

Land

With regard to short stay homes, she urged Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy to grant land in the city to the helpline so that a night shelter or a short stay home could be constructed with financial assistance from non-governmental organisations such as Lions Club, Rotary or corporate houses.

Ms. Deshpande said that the helpline needed land within the city limits.

"This will prevent the women and their family members from travelling long distances for counselling," she said.

"Even if the Government grants land, a lot of commitment is required with regard to setting up short stay homes. We need more dedicated personnel, adequate funds for security and infrastructure. Corporate houses and non-governmental organisations have to offer us help," she said.

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