PETALING JAYA: As calls to domestic violence hotlines jumped by over 200% during the movement control order (MCO) period, a women’s group is urging Malaysia to strengthen its safety net for survivors, especially in these unprecedented times.
Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO) research head Shazana Agha said compared to the 250 enquiries it received in February before the MCO, there were 898 in April and 848 in May, a jump of over 200%.
During the start of the MCO in March, WAO, a group that provides free shelter, counselling and crisis support to abused women and children, received 361 calls. “WAO received a daily average of 8.6 enquiries in February. In March, when the MCO began, this increased to a daily average of 11.6 enquiries.
“In April, the daily average increased exponentially to 30 enquiries, decreasing only slightly in May to 27.3, ” said Shazana.
She said in early April, several public service announcements made by the authorities such as the National Security Council and police played a critical role in encouraging more survivors of abuse to come forward.
The Women, Family and Community Development Ministry also saw an increase in the number of calls to its Talian Kasih helpline, receiving 3,308 calls on April 16 alone, its highest daily record.
Minister Datuk Seri Rina Harun had said that on average, Talian Kasih, a hotline for complaints on women, family and community issues – particularly to address emergencies – would only get about 145 calls a day.
According to the ministry’s data from March 18 until June 1, the lowest number of calls it received was on the first day of the MCO at 162 calls.
The second lowest number of calls it received was 165 on May 24, the first day of Hari Raya Aidilfitri.
However, since the first day of the MCO in March, the number of enquiries to Talian Kasih had jumped, with the last day of the month seeing 563 calls.
Starting April 1, the number of calls started to average at over 1,000 daily, reaching over 2,000 and 3,000 on certain days.
The lowest number of calls recorded for that month was 952 on April 30.
In May, the highest number of calls received was 2,528 on the third of the month.
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