The Karnataka High Court was on Friday informed by the state government that during the lockdown period from March 24, Santhwana centres received 315 calls relating to domestic violence.
At present there are 193 "Santhwana" centres functioning 24x7 at Taluk & District levels, and are staffed by counsellors & social workers. During the lockdown period, necessary counselling services are being provided through phone by Santhwana counsellors.
From March 23, 1194 calls were received on the Universalization of Women HelpLine – 181, which is a Government of India scheme, being implemented in Karnataka, in coordination with the Health & Family Welfare Department of the State. Of which 162 calls related to domestic violence.
The government also informed that 18 Protection Officers, who were appointed by the State, under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, are addressing issues related to Domestic violence. In addition,186 Child Development Project Officers are in additional charge as Protection Officers, and at Districts, Deputy Directors have been conferred additional charge of Protection Officers.
A division bench of Chief Justice Abhay Oka and Justice B V Nagarathna said "The State Government has come out with the measures taken and they have also given details of the calls received making a grievance regarding domestic violence. However, it is not clear whether after receiving the calls, the protection officers have been informed to take action under the statute."
As regards the issue of mental illness suffered by the citizens due to lockdown, National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro-sciences (NIMHANS) at Bengaluru has taken certain steps. Counsel appearing for the PUCL informed the court that Dr.Naveen Kumar who is looking after the Helplines provided by the NIMHANS is willing to appear and assist the Court. The bench accordingly requested Dr.Naveen Kumar to appear for video conference hearing on April 28.
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