New Delhi: To help victims of domestic abuse during the nationwide lockdown, meant to mitigate the coronavirus pandemic, the Delhi State Legal Services Authority (DSLSA) is collaborating with Mother Dairy booths, pharmacists and chemists throughout the national capital for information on such victims, and has also launched an app to deliver legal aid.
The DSLSA has been ramping up efforts to improve access to free legal aid for victims unable to find help due to the restrictions imposed by the lockdown. The service already had a helpline — 1516 — set up as well as a phone number (+91 96679 92802), which can be reached through messages on WhatsApp and SMS.
According to data compiled by the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA), over 700 domestic violence-related cases have been reported so far from across the country during the lockdown. The highest number of cases were reported from Uttarakhand (144), followed by Haryana (79), and Delhi (63).
“There is an association of chemists all over Delhi. We tied up with this association… We sensitised all of them to report back to us in case they come across any information about someone going through domestic violence,” Judge Kanwal Jeet Arora, member secretary of the DSLSA, told ThePrint.
The mobile number was set up for victims who might not find the privacy or opportunity to make a call, Arora added.
The DSLSA has also tied up with anganwadi and ASHA workers who might come across domestic violence cases in their areas.
Also read: Coronavirus lockdown is a danger for victims of domestic violence. Here’s what to do
App to the rescue
Apart from the ground network, the DSLSA also launched a mobile application Thursday, called the ‘Vidhik Sewa’, for providing free legal aid to domestic violence victims.
The app was launched virtually by Justice Hima Kohli, who is the executive chairperson of the DSLSA.
“The reason behind creation of this app is because of the lockdown, cases of domestic violence have gone up. The problem so far was that the victims of domestic violence stay with the abusers … So through this app, we will come to their doorstep instead of them coming to us,” said Arora.
Explaining the process, he Arora said that once someone seeks legal aid, a panel lawyer will get in touch with the complainant on a call, and ascertain if the couple should be referred for counselling.
“We will first try tele counselling, to try (and see) if the matter can be sorted out,” he said, adding that if counselling doesn’t work, DSLSA will help the complainant file a case.
In addition to domestic violence, the app also will provide legal aid for civil disputes, labour disputes, matrimonial disputes, missing children reports, senior citizens and sexual offences.
Also read: Indian women are locked in with their abusers, but are finding new ways to seek help