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HindustanTimes Sun,20 Apr 2014

Women's helpline turns relationship advisor

Shruti Tomar, Hindustan Times  Bhopal, May 01, 2013
First Published: 13:44 IST(1/5/2013) | Last Updated: 14:11 IST(1/5/2013)

While the 1090 women's helpline in Bhopal is receiving many complaints related to sexual harassment, for some women it has turned in to a marriage/divorce advisory.

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"Ma'am, I love a man and want to marry him, but my parents are against the union. I don't want to lodge a complaint against anyone. Please give me advice and how can the helpline make (sic) this possible," these words from a girl in Vidisha put the cop on duty at the helpline centre in a fix.

As the women helpline cannot offer much help in such scenarios, the cop on duty asked for the girl's age. The girl claimed to be 21 years old and the cop told the girl that since she was legally an adult she could go ahead with her marriage plan but the helpline could only come to her rescue in case she receives a threat from someone.

Women's helpline in-charge Sunita Cornelious told HT that the helpline receives many calls from girls inquiring about the provisions of punishment as well as the role of the police in providing security to them and their partners in case they marry against their elders' wishes.

She added, "We give the girls the necessary advice and also explain the role of the police. Sometimes we also receive calls in which girls ask for advice on how they should break-up with their boyfriends."

"I want to leave my boyfriend, but he refuses to break up with me. I fear he will take revenge if I dump him. How will the police help me in such a situation?" this interesting call was made from a city-based women's hostel.

A counsellor asked the caller to lodge a complaint against her boyfriend if he was harassing her but the caller snapped back that she only needed advice.

Apart from young girls seeking relationship advice, a large number of housewives and working women call the helpline.

A woman from Ujjain called the helpline's office a week ago and inquired about the provisions of punishment for domestic violence. She told the counsellor that she wanted advice because her husband and mother-in-law were exploiting her. She didn't want to lodge any complaint and wanted to know if it was possible to punish them without confrontation. 

Sunita said in such cases, along with advice, they also suggest ways to confront the perpetrators.

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