By Sharanya Gopinathan
I remember reading this interesting study that looked at the continuous mental trauma that people who man helpline numbers face. The study examined the concept of vicarious trauma, which the people who work at help lines face when they deal with emotional distress calls on a constant basis. The idea of fatigue is one familiar to feminists, so I found it particularly intriguing that this study was undertaken. It also found that people who work at these kinds of centres should receive after-call support services, amongst other things.
Which is why I found the news that women helpline workers with the Bengaluru police are receiving obscene calls from idiots who ask for sexual favours and the like even more enraging. The New Indian Express reports that in Bengaluru, the Vanitha Sahayavani number 1091 for women and helpline number 1090 for elders are those that are specifically being targeted by these sorry excuses for men. This is doubly problematic, as it not only means that the people who handle these lines are being maliciously sexually harassed, but also that services for these very important issues are being disrupted by such phone calls. Sandhya, who works at the helpline for elders, told the New Indian Express that the calls ensure that their day ends on a bad note.
This whole situation is also ironic in an infuriating way, as the 1091 helpline, among other things, is actually supposed to be for people to report obscene phone calls.
No complaint has been registered with the police so far, but we really hope it happens soon. None of the people affected by this, from the women who man the helplines to the people who call in to them for help, should have to face the problems creepy men who have nothing better to do than sexually harass women employees are causing.
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