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249 Women, Children Subjected To Domestic Violence During Covid-19 Lockdown

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As many as 249 women and children were allegedly subjected to domestic violence during curfew-like lockdown in Pakistan, sources at the Ministry of Human Rights told Naya Daur.

Out of 525 calls to the Ministry of Human Rights’ specially launched helpline, 249 calls were related to domestic violence against women and children. 

The remaining 276 were related to health facilities and ration, the ministry source said.

Most of the complaints related to Covid-19 were of minor nature and complainants were provided guidance and information that they needed.

Public Relations Officer Huma says that mobility restrictions to contain the spread of coronavirus could cause incidents of domestic abuse and violence in homes to be more frequent, more severe and more dangerous. She says the helpline is there to provide support to victims of violence which is in line with the work that the ministry does.

In many countries, when people are encouraged or bound to say at home, the risk of violence against women and children is likely to increase, citing reasons such as stress, disruption of social and protective networks and loss of income and decreased access to services.  

This prompted the government in Pakistan to take action and establish a forum where support can be sought in case of domestic violence, Huma maintained. 

During the first week of establishing, the desk received a total 162 calls and except one, the rest of the calls were related to health facilities and ration. 

The callers who had reached out to seek help relating to domestic violence were provided guidelines and asked to approach the helpline again if there was any violence, says Huma.

“The caller hasn’t contacted us again,” she adds. She says that the team responsible for the helpline had added the caller’s contact number in the priority list with the assurance of providing further help and facilitation when and if required.

Former PCSW chairperson, Fauzia Viqar stresses the need to increase public awareness regarding the helpline, and that of providing strong legal aid, referral pathways and teams of focal persons in every related unit to ensure its success.

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