Women’s rights and gender equality advocate group AWARE is expanding the operating hours of their Women’s Helpline to reflect the a 32% increase in calls they received last year. From 20 March 2019 onwards, AWARE’s Women’s Helpline service will expand from the previous 3pm – 9pm hours to a 10am – 6pm, Monday to Friday.
AWARE launched Singapore’s first Helpline for women in crisis in 1991. Run by women, for women, the Helpline ensures that thousands are informed, supported and empowered through the provision of emotional support, psychoeducation, referrals for assistance and legal information.
Today, the gender-informed, trauma-informed Helpline team consists of more than 70 staff members and trained volunteers with varied backgrounds. In March 2018, AWARE revamped its Women’s Helpline service to provide support to women at no cost in four languages (English, Mandarin, Tamil and Malay).
In 2018, the Women’s Helpline saw a 32% increase in calls, from 3,071 calls in 2017 to 4,062 calls in 2018. According to AWARE, the top presenting issues reported by callers throughout 2018 related to abuse and violence, marital issues and psychological distress. About 23% of callers received support for and information about marital issues: divorce, maintenance, separation, etc.
The second biggest issue reported by callers was abuse and violence (19% of calls). This included, but was not limited to, physical, verbal, emotional, sexual and financial abuse. Women were also assisted in coping with emotional and psychological distress faced in various settings, such as family, workplace and intimate relationships (17% of calls).
This increase in calls also corresponds with a 48% increase on the previous year in callers seeking counselling for the first time from AWARE’s Women’s Care Centre.
“We’re proud to extend our Women’s Helpline timings this month, following International Women’s Day,” said Anisha Joseph, Head of CARE Services for AWARE. “Women disproportionately face unfair treatment, barriers to opportunities and violence, leaving them disempowered and unsupported. 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.”
In line with the review of the Women’s Helpline timings, the Sexual Assault Care Centre (SACC) Helpline operating hours have also been modified. SACC’s Helpline will now run 10 a.m. – 10 p.m., Monday to Friday. Previously, it ran 10 a.m. – 12 a.m. This new set of hours will reflect more efficient utilisation of the centre’s resources.
New Hours for AWARE Helplines:
Women’s Helpline: 1800 777 5555 (Monday – Friday, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.)
Sexual Assault Care Centre Helpline: 6779 0282 (Monday – Friday, 10 a.m. – 10 p.m., except public holidays). SACC WhatsApp: 9781 4101
Those interested in volunteering as Helpliners can sign up at AWARE’s website.