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Harried husbands jam helpline Aamir launched for rape victims

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Counsellors at India’s first one-stop crisis centre, which was opened in Bhopal on Monday, were surprised to find that in less than two days of its existence a sizable number of help-seekers were men.

The OSCC, Gauravi, was inaugurated with much fanfare on Monday by film actor Aamir Khan at Bhopal district hospital. Victims of rape, domestic violence can call for help on a toll-free number or walk in and seek help in getting medical aid, FIRs and counselling.

However, 30% of the calls received so far by the centre were made by men who were complaining about harassment by their wives.

“We informed them that the OSCC is for assisting women facing harassment and violence, not men. We also asked them to file a complaint with police if their problems are serious,” said Anamika Roy of NGO Action Aid.

“Some also requested that such centres shall also be established for men who are victims of harassment by women,” she said.

Action Aid is providing technical assistance to the health department to run the OSCC.

Meanwhile, the centre received 20 complaints of domestic violence and recommended counselling for five callers. One victim of violence was provided medical help and a woman being forced by her husband to divorce him was provided counselling.

Another complainant was a victim of domestic violence who was undergoing treatment at a hospital. She had alleged her in-laws had poisoned her.

The counsellors handling the OSCC, however, had to deal with another problem. Many people made prank calls on the toll free number, forcing the staff to seek police’s help.

The establishment of the centre has been hailed widely, as the highest number of rapes in the country, according to National Crime Record Bureau’s 2012 report, happened in Madhya Pradesh.

Such centres are being planned for the rest of the districts of the state. Chief minister Shivraj Chouhan has expressed confidence that these centres will help in preventing crimes against women.