Monday, 28 Sep 2020

Aware extends operating hours of women's helpline after calls rose 32 per cent last year

SINGAPORE – A 32 per cent rise in calls from women facing issues such as marital problems, abuse or psychological distress last year has led the Association of Women for Action and Research (Aware) to expand operations to cope with the increase.

Starting on Wednesday (March 20), its Women’s Helpline will operate from 10am to 6pm, Mondays to Fridays, the group said in a statement. Its operating hours used to be from 3pm to 9.30pm.

Ms Anisha Joseph, Aware’s head of care services, said that women are left disempowered or unsupported because they face unfair treatment, barriers to opportunities and violence.

“Many women are made to believe that they are alone in these situations, or to be blamed for them – and asking for help can be intimidating. But the increase in calls over the last year shows that more women are feeling safe to do so,” she added.

Of the 4,062 calls made to the women’s helpline (1800-777-555) last year, 23 per cent were from callers seeking help for marital issues such as divorce, maintenance or separation; 19 per cent had to do with abuse and violence; and 17 per cent were concerned with emotional or psychological distress.

Last year also saw a 48 per cent increase in the number of first-time callers to the helpline, set up in 1991 and now manned by more than 70 female staff members and trained volunteers.

In its statement, Aware said that its other helpline (6779-0282), which aims to support victims of sexual assault or rape, will operate from 10am to 10pm instead of from 10am to midnight.

This is to “reflect (a) more efficient utilisation of the centre’s resources”, it added.

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