Islamabad, May 24, 2023 (PPI-OT): A helpline is a tool for survivors of violence to report and seek help, safely and confidentially. In Pakistan, various emergency and gender-based violence (GBV) helplines are operating at federal and provincial levels. Staff at the helplines are, in most cases, first-responders to guide and link the survivors with right services such as psychological first-aid to help heal trauma, health facilities, legal assistance, shelters as well as law enforcement agencies.

Building synergies between these helplines and apps is key to coordinating better referrals and improving service quality for women and girls who face violence. In a two-day conference, Ministry of Human Rights and National Commission on Status of Women, in collaboration with UN Population Fund and Rozan, brought together managers and staff from helplines including 1043 helpline, 1737 (VAW) and Pucaar 15 Helpline from Punjab, 1089 from Balochistan, Bolo helpline 0800-22227 from KP and 1094 from Sindh to learn and share regional experiences and support operations. “Gender-based violence is often underreported and unrecognized.

Helplines working to respond to gender-based violence across Pakistan must work together to respond to Gender-Based Violence by and providing services to survivors through strong collaboration among emergency and GBV helplines. NCSW is working on a national action plan for GBV issues so these helplines can work together under standard indicators and data tools” said Ms. Nilofar Bakhtiar, Chairperson NCSW at the inaugural session. The representatives of UNFPA, UKaid and High Commission of Canada also participated in the conference to pledge their support in establishing Mohammad Arif, Director Ministry of Human Rights reaffirmed the commitment of the Ministry to protect and uphold the human rights of everyone especially women and girls facing any form of violence.

Use of technology for GBV response is a new area which requires trained staff, safe documentation, data protection and mentoring support. For this, collaborations among government departments and development partners as well as sustainable funding are the need of the hour. The conference ‘Building Synergies between Gender-Based Violence Helplines for Women and Girls’ concluded today with recommendations that emphasized the need for the National Framework on Gender Based Violence for giving a guidelines and setting minimum standards for the Gender Based Violence response and referral services (Police, Health, Shelter, helplines). In addition to this it was emphasized that a specialized training for social welfare workforce responding to GBV cases is reinforced.

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