The Nirbhaya gangrape gave way to many safety tools and initiatives in the country. But one such tool existed even before that. And one would be surprised to know that a women’s safety helpline in Uttar Pradesh has been active since October 2012 and has a stellar step-by-step method of working. Here are some of the key points about UP’s Woman Power Line:

  • The working of Woman Power Line AKA helpline 1090 AKA ‘Dus Nabbe’, as it is locally called, is centred in Lucknow with about 40 male constables and 40 female constables working for it.
  • It was the idea of inspector general Navniet Sekera who — in a meeting with Akhilesh Yadav — was put in-charge of women’s issues in the state. The helpline works 24X7 and aims at solving women’s problems, which are not covered under any law like eve-teasing, stalking, harassment through phone, social media etc. in UP.
  • The most effective thing about this helpline is the way it is designed. The calls by distressed women are received by the 40 young women employed by the helpline service. Then the calls are transferred to the male constables who dial in the culprits’ numbers and give them a warning. When the same number is reported again, the male constables call the offenders in, along with their parents and sometimes their sisters; to inform them about their behaviour. They also make the offender take an oath on Gita to not harass another woman ever. When this does not work out, they go straight to arresting the accused. 600 offenders have been put behind bars in the last four years and all of them were over 50 years of age, reported HT.

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  • It was recently reported is how these offenders get the girls’ phone numbers. UP is actually a hub for mobile recharge shops that double up as sellers of girls’ phone numbers. The numbers are sold from anywhere between Rs 50 to Rs 200, “depending on the girl’s beauty”.
  • Cases of physical violence, sexual harassment and dowry demands have also been reported to the helpline but these calls are directly forwarded to 100.
  • Over 6 lakh calls made in the past four years from all parts of UP like Kanpur Dehat, Barabanki, Hardoi, Lucknow, Jhansi etc. The women who have reported harassment to 1090 have been in the age group of 15-30 years.
  • Most calls that come to Woman Power Line are from places like Lucknow, Kanpur Nagar, Allahabad, Varanasi and Agra.

Snigdha Poonam, who did the story on the Woman Power Line for HT, gave her take on the story to SheThePeople.TV. She said, “They have got one part of the problem sorted, which is dealing with men who harass women on phone call. But they need to still tackle others, such as anonymity of the harassers–most of these men make calls from phone numbers they have bought under a fake name and address–and the sale and circulation of women’s phone numbers. Whatever the plan, it has to include the vast and unregulated network of recharge shops.”

Picture credit- Better India