Autonomy under threat, DCW says will shut down helpline

New Delhi [India],Oct. 28: Its autonomy under threat, the Delhi Commission for Women(DCW) on Friday said it would shut down its helpline number if the new Member Secretary appointed by the Centre does not release the two months of salary due to its contractual staff.

DCW said the appointment of Alka Diwan as Member Secretary, who is also the VAT Commissioner, is 'illegal' and against the DCW Act.

The DCW further alleged that its workload has increased exponentially since 2015 and effort was being made to provide requisite staff or facilities.

"Working round the clock, the staff which is mostly women, and even consists of acid attack survivors, dowry harassment survivors, and orphans from Nari Niketan, have put in their hearts and souls into the functioning of the commission, thereby making it proactive rights body it is today," the official statement said.

Diwan was appointed DCW Member Secretary on October 7, and she has stopped the release of the salaries of all contractual staff.

"She has repeatedly disobeyed the directions of the commission to advertise the short term emergent posts so that appointments can be made in a proper and transparent manner as well as release the salary of the contractual staff for the work they have undertaken which is their fundamental right," the statement read.

"For the staff who work in various programs namely 181 Women Helpline, Rape Crisis Cell, Mobile Helpline and other crucial programs of the Commission come from extremely vulnerable backgrounds and cannot afford to work for long without salaries," the statement said.

"Interestingly many of the staff whose salary has been withheld, have been working in the Commission for the past 18 years and have never before been in such a situation.

They are now being made to pay the price of working on Saturdays and overtime," it added. DCW expressed disappointment that on one hand crimes against women and girls are increasing in Delhi and on the other hand, vested interests have decided to punish and harass those girls and women who spent their entire year working for the cause of women in Delhi have been denied their dues on this Diwali which has indeed become a Black Diwali for them.

Source: ANI