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January 10, 2019

Important helpline


January 10, 2019

According to the Ministry for Human Rights, the calls received by the helpline set up soon after the PTI government came to power is now receiving around 15,000 calls per month. The number has grown rapidly from 4,000 per month within a few months. The calls involve complaints about domestic violence, harassment, wrongdoing by police, the abuse of children and all kinds of other rights-related issues. The ministry has emphasised that its staff has been trained to handle these complaints sensitively and offer advice on the best approach to tackling them. It is obvious from the response received by the helpline that people need such an initiative and are using it in increasing numbers as a tool to get help and support. Such efforts are urgently needed in our country. People who suffer human rights violations of any kind often simply do not know whom to approach or where to go. Traditionally, the police have not been very helpful.

It is also true that advice on legal remedies or other means to solve their problems is vital to ordinary citizens. The fact that this helpline is being used with increased frequency suggests that the advice people are receiving is of some good use to them. Such a response within a few months of the establishment of the helpline – which can be reached by dialling 1099 – indicates how many people across the country require such services. We hope that in the future, the ministry will consider setting up more specialised helplines for people who need particular kinds of advice. There are many whose problems do not fall into a particular category but who are still victims of some kind of abuse, whether it is emotional or psychological. Talking about this to trained members of staff can be enormously beneficial to them. We hope the trend can spread further and that agencies such as the police can be trained to offer help and support when needed. This would make an enormous difference to the lives of the people of the country. Just the indication coming from the helpline that awareness is increasing rapidly is enormously encouraging in itself.

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