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Women Help desk Officers

INTRODUCTION:

In order to make public places safe for women, the Ministry of Home Affairs under the Nirbhaya Fund scheme has initiated the Safe City project o create a safe, secure and empowering environment for women in public places, to enable them to pursue all opportunities without the threat of gender-based violence and/or harassment. It, further, aims to prevent and curb all forms of crimes against women and girl children in public places by providing safer urban infrastructure and efficient access to law enforcement agencies. Eight cities have been identified for implementation of this project in the first phase, under the Nirbhaya Fund, at an estimated cost of Rs.2919.55 crore. These are Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad and Lucknow.

Bengaluru City Police has been allocated Rs. 667 crores for various components. One of the components is that of Women Help Desks. This is a unique initiative of Bengaluru City Police wherein women from the public act as a bridge between women complainants and the police.

In all 220 women civil defense wardens have been selected to work in 166 police stations of Bengaluru City in two shifts.

 OBJECTIVE:

Generally, women in India do not prefer to visit police stations because of the stereotypical image of police station that they have in their minds. This initiative is a step towards breaking that stereotype and making police stations more people friendly.

It was felt that women volunteers from outside the department who are trained in psychological first aid, communication and distress management will act as a link between the police department and public. They will also be more equipped to deal with these women in distress and be able to empathize with them better.

As per the EFC (Expenditure Finance Committee) Memorandum, the mandate of these help desks is essentially to “counsel the women in distress maintaining their privacy, secrecy and honour under the distressed situation.”

For this purpose, women civil defence warden were selected and trained in legal provisions relating to women, various government schemes for women, and psychological first aid, communication skills and self-care.

The reasons why Women Self Defense Wardens were chosen are following:

  1. They are volunteers who have enrolled themselves to serve people which shows their public service attitude.

  2. There is uniformity as like-minded people and those with prior experience of working with police are selected.

  3. There is better accountability as they all are volunteers with the same organization.

These women help desk officers have been trained to provide the women coming to the police stations psychological first aid which essentially means giving preliminary psychological assistance to those in distress. They also help them understand the process of police investigation, inform them about various government schemes for women and also direct them to psychological counsellors, if need be.

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