Night counselling may become permanent

A counsellor attending a call at Parihar Vanitha Sahayavani centre in Bengaluru on Wednesday.  

Counsellors on the night shift of Parihar counselling centre in the Police Commissioner’s office recently received a call from a woman who was residing in the U.S. Forced to take a pay cut and work from home, her husband had become cranky and she was undergoing mental harassment, she said. She was unable to reach out to the local police there. In addition, her in-laws in Bengaluru were giving her a hard time and blaming her for their son sending them lesser money than usual. The counsellors reached out to her in-laws and helped resolve the situation.

Ever since the counselling centre started night counselling two months ago - a first in its 27-year-old history - Parihar has been witnessing a steady rise in the number of calls, prompting it to think about making this a permanent feature.

Rani Shetty, Parihar in-charge, told The Hindu that in June, there were 252 cases that came in at night. The number went up to 326 in July. “A majority of complaints, around 257, were from women, while 24 were from children and six were related to COVID-19. Most complaints were of domestic violence, followed by economic issues, cyber crime, alcoholic abuse, pre-marital issues, etc. There have been some POCSO complaints and some related to the child custody as well,” she said.

Calls from other States

There have been calls from other States as well. Recently, a woman caller had gone to her home State while relations were strained with her husband. Once the lockdown was lifted, she returned to Bengaluru. But her husband refused to take her in, citing COVID-19 as an excuse.

The woman completed her quarantine period in a hotel and returned, but he again did not let her in saying there was a COVID-19 case in the family. Left with nowhere to go, she approached the night counsellors who got the police to intervene. After her husband refused to cooperate, she is now being housed in a shelter.

“We are getting calls from other States also, mostly from relatives who can’t come here to help their family memberss in distress and call us for help. Night counselling has also proven to be mainly for crisis intervention where we have even successfully prevented a suicide attempt. A woman whose husband fought with her left, taking their child with him. The woman called us and our counsellors were able to intervene in time and prevent her from doing anything drastic. They also patched up the family,” said Ms. Shetty.

The night counselling team consists of three counsellors working in each of the three shifts between 5 p.m. and 10 a.m. Going by the demand, the new feature is here to stay beyond the pandemic, especially given that there are not many options available for those in distress to reach out to at night, she added.

Parihar family counselling centre/Vanitha Sahayavani can be reached at 22943224/5.

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Printable version | Oct 1, 2020 6:58:52 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/night-counselling-may-become-permanent/article32280559.ece

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