Gender-based violence has surged since the lockdown.
Reports also suggest that people are facing heightened anxieties due to the pandemic. Additionally, there are concerns that medical staff (largely women) are subject to sexual harassment at health institutions.
If you are a victim of abuse or know someone who may be, call the following organisations; they serve to protect and safeguard the rights of the marginalised and oppressed.
Domestic Violence & Child Abuse
Operating hours: Monday - Friday, 9am-5pm
Bedari is an NGO which works to protect women and children. The organisation also provides legal aid, counseling and referral to relevant institutions like shelter homes.
Ministry of Human Rights (MoHR)
Helpline: 1099, 03339085709 (WhatsApp)
Operating hours: All week, 10am - 10pm
MoHR's toll-free helpline deals with individuals facing any form of human rights violations. The service also provides free legal aid.
PSCW Women’s Protection Helpline
Operating hours: 24/7 (services only for Punjab)
The Punjab Women’s toll-free Helpline is available 24/7. Managed and supervised by PCSW, the helpline team comprises of all-women call agents, three legal advisors, phycho social counselor, supervisors and management staff to address inquiries and complaints and provide psycho-social counseling on a range of gender-specific issues.
Operating Hours: Monday - Saturday, 9am - 5pm
Dastak is centered around providing relief to individuals facing domestic and gender-based violence, it serves to protect women and children by giving them shelter and legal aid.
Operating hours: All week, 10am - 8pm
Rozan Helpline is a free-of-cost telephonic service which connects you with trained psychologists. In partnership with United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Rozan also provides psycho-social services to women and girls who may be facing violence in the wake of the lockdown.
Interactive Research & Development (IRD)
Available: Monday - Saturday, 9am - 5pm
IRD directs its efforts towards healthcare for all. Its program Pursakoon Zindagi aims to provide access to mental health services to the less privileged. The helpline offers free counselling and sessions for individuals suffering with mental health concerns.
Helplines: 9123 (mobile) 111-11-9123 (landline)
Operating hours: Monday - Friday, 2pm - 6pm.
Aman TeleHealth has partnered with the Pakistan Society for Excellence in Psychology to provide emotional support to individuals, families and healthcare professionals impacted by COVID-19. It also connects individuals to other health professionals for guidance and information related to general health issues.
Digital Rights Foundation
Available: Monday - Friday, 9am - 5pm
The Digital Rights Foundation aims to provide a safe and secure online environment for all. As the lockdown increases our frequent use of the digital space it also prompts a higher risk for individuals to fall for online fraud and abuse.
DRF assists in reporting all forms of online harassment. Check its social media pages for updated information on how to safely navigate your way online.
The writer reached out to a number of helplines, of those the ones listed above are operational. If you know of other functional helplines providing services to individuals facing gender-based violence please share them in the comments below and we will update our list.