CHENNAI: All active and effective steps have been taken to curb domestic violence against women during the lockdown imposed in view of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Tamil Nadu government on Friday told a special bench of the Madras High Court.
When the writ miscellaneous petition from advocate Sudha Ramalingam came up for further hearing on Friday, the Health Department told the bench of Justices M Sathyanarayanan and M Nirmal Kumar that, to rescue women in distress due to domestic abuse, a response system had recently been put in place. As per this system, Anganwadi workers were placed as co-ordinators to receive and escalate calls of domestic abuse to their immediate superior officials.
They were closely working with the women in the community at grass root-level and had been provided with smartphones (numbers are available on the ICDS website www.icds.in.nic.in).
As many as 111 counsellors had been temporarily designated as protection officers to address cases of violence expeditiously. The mobile numbers of all such officers (one in every district) had been made publicly available. The contact details of the one-stop centres at every district had also been made publicly available.
Immediate arrangement for the transport of the protection officers and other officials to respond to complaints of domestic violence has been made and women in distress can be rescued on time and be shifted to shelters when necessary, the counter affidavit filed in this connection said.
According to the counter affidavit, 65 cases of women in distress had been handled by one-stop centres across the State since March 25, 2020. As of April 21, 2020, protection officers had rendered service in 92 cases. In most of these cases, the women-only wanted the protection officer to warn the abuser of the legal consequences of their actions, seeking counselling for the abuser and themselves.
None opted for immediate remedy through the courts due to the lockdown, fear of infection and mobility issues. During the lockdown, up to April 9, as many as 1,409 calls had been received on the 181 women’s helpline. A majority of these calls were blank calls or related to general matters that did not require the department’s intervention, the counter added.
The counter added that the police department has set up tele-counselling centres with the help of 10 psycho-social counsellors to render all types of counselling to women and children in the jurisdiction of the Greater Chennai Police range.
The emergency call number 112 has been linked to the KAVALAN SOS APP and call centres with police helpline number 100 are functioning effectively in the State Police Master Control Room and the complaints are attended to promptly, nodal officers for Chennai city, in the rank of inspectors, have been appointed by the police department to deal with the cases.
District rescue teams have been formed to address the issues of violence against women, the counter added.