Life and liberty for women, kids and others

help1Sushmitha B
NSoJ Bureau

“I receive threatening calls from my husband who says he will pour
acid on me if I don’t work as a prostitute to earn for his drugs and
alcohol. He left me and my children five years ago” says Tehseen
Birader (named changed). She dialled 1091 for help and has been
provided with police protection by Vanitha Sahaya Vani.

“Vanitha Sahaya Vani, a project of Parihara, provides immediate rescue
& support for women in distress,” says Rani Shetty, officer in charge of
Parihara. Parihara is an initiative of Bangaluru City Police and also
happens to be the first NGO operating from Police Commissioners
Office.

It caters to women and children who need immediate rescue, police
support, counselling, short stay facilities, medical aid and legal
aid. Apart from this Parihara conducts awareness programmes, medical
camps, training, women empowerment and research programmes.

Parihara has been successful in providing shelter to women in need and
was started by Central Social Welfare Board which provided family
counselling. Inspired by it, Bangaluru City Police adopted “Parihara”
in 1993 as a charitable institution registered under the Societies
Registration Act 1960 in the Commissioner’s office. Today it protects
children in need, women in distress and families that need help
through its three wings – Makkala Sahayavani (Children), Vanitha
Sahayavani (Women) and Family Counselling Centre.

The Makkala Sahayavani has saved many young children from disaster. A
year back, a child was forced to drop out of school because parents
needed a helping hand in selling fruits and vegetables. An anonymous
person who saw the minor selling fruits, called 1092 (Makkala
Sahayavani) who immediately rescued the child.

Sunith Gowda’s (name changed) parents were divorced and remarried, as
a result, Sunith’s custody was given to the mother and the daughter’s
custody to the father. There were behavioural problems with the son,
and the mother tried several times to correct him but her attempts
failed. The step-father hurt him by burning his hands. When the son
sought his biological father’s help, he was brought to Makkala
Sahayavani by his biological father and relatives. Looking into the
case, the officials helped file a case against the mother and after
counselling, Sunith decided to stay with his father.

A 16-year-old Savitha Kumar (name changed) was forced to marry a
35-year-old man by her step mother and father. Other children who
attended their friend’s marriage called 1092 and MSV immediately
rescued Savitha from the function hall as she was a minor. Now the
girl is studying in college.

Eleven-year-old Rani K (name changed) was waiting at the bus-stop to
go back to her grandmother’s home where she lived and went to school.
She had been visiting her parents. The girl was picked from the
bus-stop by the house owner’s son along with his two friends who
promised to drop her home safely. She was raped by the three men and
left in the bushes. The incident took place this May around 11:30 in
the morning. The father and the victim was brought by the villagers to
Makkala Sahayavani. An FIR was filed against the three majors and they
were immediately arrested.

Parihara functions with government officials as its executive committee
members. The Commissioner of Police is its President, Joint
Commissioner of Police is the Vice President, Deputy Commissioner of
Police is the Secretary and another Deputy Commissioner of Police is the
Treasurer.

Vanitha Sahayavani was launched in 1999 by Bangaluru City Police to
prevent atrocities against women and to ensure timely assistance to
women in distress. It also co-ordinates with police and voluntary
organisations and individuals working for the cause of women’s
empowerment.

“Women hesitate to enter a police station. This fact has laid the
foundations for the NGO. In the beginning we received only 20 to 30
cases per month but today, we receive 700 to 800 calls and deal with
25 to 30 cases a day,” says Rani Shetty.

The NGO deals with various cases like premarital issues, live-in
relationships, marital disharmony, domestic violence, incompatibility,
extramarital relationships, dowry harassment, substance abuse,
psychiatric issues and others (cheating/finance).
The services provided by Vanitha Sahaya Vani to help women in need are
telephonic counselling, police support, rescue, medical assistance,
short stay homes, legal service, awareness programmes, training,
rehabilitation and empowerment. It has a panel of legal advisers,
psychiatrists, sexologists, professional counsellors and dedicated
volunteers to help victims. The NGO started working 24/7 after the
infamous Nirbhaya incident shook the nation.

To secure ones ‘life and liberty’, Vanitha Sahaya Vani found a new
hope in the lives of women in the state in matters of security and
counselling. It gives courage to many women like Tehseen Birader to raise
their voice against violence.

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