Report domestic violence via new SELamat helpline


Dr Siti Mariah (left) and Wanita Berdaya Selangor chief executive officer Siti Kamariah Ahmad Subki officially launching the SELamat helpline at the Raja Tun Uda Library in Shah Alam.

SELANGOR residents who are either victims of domestic violence or know of a neighbour or friend who is exposed to such abuse will now have the new SELamat 24-hour helpline to call for help.

State public health, welfare, women empowerment and family committee chairman Dr Siti Mariah Mahmud, speaking during the helpline’s official launch at the Raja Tun Uda Library in Shah Alam, said it has been operational since Nov 1.

The SELamat 24-hour helpline falls under the purview of Wanita Berdaya Selangor, which is the state government’s women’s empowerment institution.

Integrated with a cloud-based software that enables recording of calls and data analysis, the telephony system took five months to set up.

Dr Siti Mariah said the project was carried out at the behest of Selangor Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Amirudin Shari, who had allocated RM100,000 from the Kita Selangor 2.0 fund in June for the purpose.

The call centre currently has one full-time worker and the support of 10 registered counsellors.

It has also enlisted the help of the Mental Illness Awareness and Support Association, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) that deals with people suffering from depression and suicidal feelings.

Dr Siti Mariah revealed that the idea of a helpline had stemmed from the many cases of domestic violence reported in light of the Covid-19 pandemic and various movement control orders.

“The NGOs told us that their lines were jammed and their shelters had no more space for incoming cases.

“There were so many cases that, at times, we were at a loss as to what to do next.

“It came to a point that we had to rent hotel rooms for use as temporary shelters.

“That was when we knew we had to do something,” she said.

On what the helpline could offer, she said depending on the severity of the case, counsellors might go as far as to offer temporary shelter and assist victims in seeking legal advice.

Stressing that the helpline was but the tip of the iceberg in dealing with domestic violence, Dr Siti Mariah also called on those who personally knew of such situations to seek help for the victims.

“Domestic violence does not only happen to women.

“It also happens to men, children and the elderly, or any individual who is in a weaker position than the abuser,” she said.

“Neither is it socioeconomically related, though a majority of reports come from the lower end.

“Bear in mind, the higher an individual is on the socioeconomic ladder, the higher the tendency to hide the problem as it involves reputation and pride.

“Even in this day and age, there are still people who will advise a victim to keep quiet about the problem to avoid shame,

“Then, there are those who think that the solution is to just walk away.

“But many of the victims may be married with children and by leaving the marriage, they may lose their support system.

“We do not claim to be able to solve the problem as the causes of domestic violence are varied and manifold.

What we can do is offer advice on how to deal with the problem, what to do and who to call,” she added.

In addition to the helpline, Dr Siti Mariah said “awareness drives” in the form of workshops, webinars and exhibitions would also be organised.

Besides that, pamphlets on the subject with emergency numbers included will be distributed across the 56 state constituencies.

“I hope that in the future, we can progress to a point where counselling reaches the abuser.

“At this juncture, it is hard as the abusers typically don’t feel that they are the cause of the problem.

“So our journey is still a long one,” she said.

The SELamat helpline can be reached at 03-6419 5027 or email hotline.krt@wbselangor.com.my

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