- Many women complain that police often refuse to register accusations of rape.
UPDATE: The helpline appeared to be working as of Monday mid-afternoon.
The Delhi government announced Dec. 24 that a helpline for women would be started in the capital from Monday. But after midday Monday the number – 181 – still is not working.
The number, a 24-hour help line that will be connected to 185 police stations in the city, is viewed by activists as a way of ensuring that women’s complaints of rape and other sexual crimes are not ignored by police.
Delhi authorities announced the helpline after the brutal gang rape this month of a 23-year-old student who died Saturday from her injuries.
“There is some problem with the connection,” a Delhi government spokesman. “The number should start in the next 10-15 minutes.”
The country has seen widespread protests in recent days in response to the women’s death asking for better governance, stricter laws and harsher punishment for those accused of rape.
Many women complain that police often refuse to register accusations of rape. Of 635 cases reported in Delhi this past year, only one has led to a conviction. Many others go unreported due to family pressure to keep silent, fear or the failure of police to register cases, activists say.
Some critics say that while the helpline is a good start, it won’t change the situation overnight unless matched by changes such as the hiring of more police, better police training and the setting up of fast-track courts to deal with a backlog of rape cases, which number almost 1,000 in the capital alone.