The next time a victim of harassment or sexual assault dials the Delhi government's woman helpline number, it is likely that she will hear from somebody who went through similar tribulations.
The government is roping in past victims of sexual harassment or violence as counsellors as they would have empathy with the callers. The helpline, 181, has been set up at Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit's office.
Women and Child Welfare Minister Kiran Walia confirmed the move. "The government wants to run the helpline in the most effective manner," she said.
It was found that government officials and operators, who have been attending the calls so far, were not able to deal with the callers properly.
"A total of 15 counsellors are being roped in for this purpose. Considering some of the women who have been short-listed have experienced sexual harassment or violence of some form in their life, they will be able to understand the problems of the callers better and deal with them sympathetically. We will provide training to them," said a senior Delhi government official.
Officials maintained it was not necessary that all counsellors being hired were victims of sexual harassment or violence.
Sources said training of these counsellors would start on Friday. "The skills that we are following for selection is counselling acumen, knowledge of law pertaining to sexual harassment and violence and personal interaction," the official said.
Officials said they plan to set up a third line as the volume of calls have increased over the past few days, crossing 5,000.
"We may have to set up a third line to share the burden," said a senior official.