Published on February 12, 2020

AHMEDABAD: What does waste in an alley and suspected numbers on a husband’s phone have in common? Women from the city are calling the 181 Abhayam helpline to report both. 

Analysis of statistics for the women’s helpline for 2018 and 2019 reveal that neighbourhood issues have seen the greatest increase, rising by 48% from 2018. In absolute numbers, domestic violence, with 55% of total calls, remains at the top.

“Two categories — neighbourhood issues and the reporting homeless girls or women — recorded increases higher than 25% in 2019. Complaints pertaining to extramarital affairs, 17 cases a week, witnessed a 25% rise,” said a senior official from EMRI, the agency that also runs the 108 emergency services.

What kind of cases make up these neighbourhood troubles? “In a city such as Ahmedabad, eve-teasing by a neighbour, passing of comments while a woman or girl takes a specific road or suggestive language used by neighbours, are some of the examples,” said Falguni Patel, helpline coordinator.

Cases relating to child custody issues are also increasing. “Such cases are seen more in couples having three or more years of married life. We try to intervene when the couple doesn’t listen to family members or try to shy away from their responsibilities. We don’t see more cases negatively, it means that there is greater awareness about women’s rights and a will to seek a resolution,” said an EMRI official.

It’s also parents ringing up the helpline to try to get their teens off electronic gadgets. In August last year, a desperate mother called the counsellors after her 15-year-old girl refused to eat unless she was given her phone. Last year, a teenager reported abuse by a close relative, resulting in a police case. “Overall, the rate of reporting cases to police is still low,” said a counsellor with Abhayam 181.

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