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Kerala CM to inaugural national women helpline 181

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: As the toll free National Women Helpline 181 which is currently operational in few states in the country is set to be extended to Kerala, social activists have mooted to permit the use of the helpline facility in aid of the transgender community too. This comes in the wake of the recent police attack on transgenders' in the state. The helpline facility called 'Mitra 181' in Kerala is set for inaugural by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on March 27 and ahead of that on March 25, Social Justice Minister KK Shailaja will hold a meeting to discuss on that.

The 24-hour helpline facility will be made functional in the state through the efforts of Kerala State Women Development Corporation (KSWDC) and for that it has already invited tenders for procurement of computers and other equipment. It has also selected the personnel to run the helpline facility.

On the plan to extend the usage of the helpline facility by transgenders too, KSWDC officials told TOI that it requires the official permit from the central government and that will be explored. The officials admitted that the recent alleged police attack on transgenders has prompted many from the community and social activists with request to extend the helpline facility for transgenders. "We will discuss with the Social Justice Minister on March 25 and then decide on that. If included Kerala will be the first state to extend the use of facility to transgenders," KSWDC official said.
Currently, the women helpline number is operational in New Delhi, Chhattisgarh, Goa and Gujarat. As part of the Central government plan to extend it all states across the country, it is decided to extend the facility to Kerala by March end through KSWDC. Women in distress or seeking security support or any crucial information can contact this toll free number for assistance round the clock, KSWDC officials said.

On dialling the women helpline number 181, the needy will get the support of the nearest police station, prominent hospital and ambulance service and the facility will be ensured, KSWDC officials said. In addition, the state government, social welfare schemes and women related program information can be obtained on calling the helpline number, the officials said.

Training for the staff will be completed soon and it is being offered with the support of experts based on a handbook prepared for that. "Once this women helpline becomes functional in Kerala, it should be full-fledged without giving scope for complaints against the system and the effort is to ensure that," KSWDC officials said. A lady manager will ensure the integration of the Women helpline control room at Technopark and will address the information needs of any caller seeking information. With the support of various governmental agencies, all efforts will be in place to ensure the security of women, the officials say.

Under the lady manager, the task force team will have a supervisor, senior call responder, call responder, IT professional and security officials to respond to the women helpline callers and it will operational during 24 hours. This facility was planned in the wake of increasing atrocities against women particularly those commuting alone during late hours, KSWDC officials said.

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