It is known that gender-based violence and abuse had risen during the lockdown in countries worldwide, including Pakistan. People encountered high levels of anxiety amid the pandemic, while rising levels of tensions increased abuse against women and children, with them nowhere to flee to or ask for assistance. Moreover, there were concerns that female medical staff was subject to sexual abuse at hospitals.
The government and non-government organizations were trying to aid these females and children by introducing emergency helplines. They did so when the horrific motorway incident shook the entire country.
The country has witnessed over a dozen kidnappings, rape, abuse, and brutal killings of women and children in the past month, mostly in the Punjab province. Whether it was the horrific rape of 7-year-old Zainab, or 6-year-old Marwah, or the motorway gang-rape, these cases were not reported to any of the multiple helplines that exist in the country. Maybe if reported on time, these organizations can help speed up the FIR registration process and finally provide justice to them.
If you are a male, a female, a mother, you should know the following emergency contact numbers by heart and make your children learn them too! The following organization serves to safeguard the rights of the oppressed and marginalized in this country.
1 – Rawalpindi’s Harassment Reporting Unit
You can call to lodge a harassment complaint to Rawalpinid’s special harassment unit. You do not need to visit a police station, just report harassment over the phone, and get your case registered. A lady officer would be deputed to follow your case. You can also choose to stay anonymous, in that case, the state will file FIR on your behalf and launch an investigation.
Operational hours: 24/7 (only for Rawalpindi)
2 . National Highway and Motorway Police (NH&MP) Emergency Helpline
National Highway and Motorway Police emergency helpline can be used when your vehicle has stopped working, or you are stuck somewhere on either of the routes during the commute. This helpline can also be used if you have witnessed any forms of crime or are a victim of any theft/unfortunate situations. After the recent ‘motorway incident’, the helpline will be free of charge.
MoHR’s is a helpline that deals with people facing any form of human rights violations. The service also provides free legal aid. The same helpline could be contacted if children or women feel unsafe, face violence, or witness violence during lockdown or quarantine. Besides this, the mobile number would help them to call or text through WhatsApp.
Helpline: 1099, 03339085709 (WhatsApp)
Operational hours: 10 am – 10 pm, All week
4. Child Protection and Welfare Bureau (Government of Punjab)
The Child Helpline provides prompt response and assistance to children subjected to violence, exploitation, abuse, and neglect. It is also utilized to provide information and guidance in respect of child rights.
Helpline – 1121
5. PSCW Women’s Protection Helpline
The Punjab Women’s Helpline is available 24/7 (only to Punjab residents). The helpline team has all-women call agents, a social counselor, three legal advisors, and management staff that respond to queries and complaints and give social counseling on a range of gender-specific problems.
Operational hours: 24/7 (only for Punjab)
An NGO that works to protect women and children, Bedari provides legal assistance, counseling, and referral to shelter homes.
Operating hours: Monday – Friday, 9 am-5 pm
7. Dastak Foundation
Dastak provides relief to individuals facing domestic and gender violence; it protects women and children by giving them shelter and legal help.
Operating Hours: Monday – Saturday, 9 am – 5 pm
8. Rozan (Mental health)
A toll-free telephonic service, Rozan helps connect people suffering from mental trauma or illness with trained psychologists. In partnership with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Rozan provided psycho-social services to women and girls who faced violence in the coronavirus lockdown.
Operating hours: All week, 10 am – 8 pm
9. Aman TeleHealth
In collaboration with the Pakistan Society for Excellence in Psychology, Aman Telehealth provides emotional support to trauma victims. Also, it provides support to families and healthcare professionals impacted by COVID-19. It also connects individuals to other health professionals for support and information related to other health issues.
Helplines: 9123 (mobile) 111-11-9123 (landline)
Operating hours: Monday – Friday, 2pm – 6pm.
10. Interactive Research & Development (IRD)
IRD’s program Pursakoon Zindagi focuses on providing access to mental health services to the underprivileged. The helpline offers free counseling sessions for individuals suffering from mental health problems.
Available: Monday – Saturday, 9am – 5pm
11. Aurat Foundation, Karachi
Aurat Foundation was founded in 1986 and is a women’s rights organization based in Islamabad, Pakistan. Its co-founders were Nigar Ahmed and Shahla Zia. Aurat Foundation lobbies and advocates for women’s rights by holding demonstrations and public awareness campaigns to safeguard and aid women suffering abuse.
Helpline (0800-22266), Tel: (021) 35824694
12. Sindh Legal Advisory Call Centre
This organization provides free legal advice and referrals to legal aid, mental health, and domestic violence for people all over Pakistan.
Helpline: 0800 70806
Operational hours: Monday to Saturday, 9 am -5 pm.
If you have or know of any other helplines that protect women and children, please share them in the comments below.
Stay tuned for more information.