Many women in Pakistan do not report sexual harassment as it is not considered culturally appropriate to talk about such issues in public.
The women who do want to report are often not familiar with the anti-harassment laws in Pakistan; do not know where to get the necessary help or have financial constraints that prevent them from pursuing the matter.
The government of Pakistan has helplines to provide timely support to the survivors and some NGOs have also devised platforms to address this social evil.
Here is a list of 7 anti-harassment helplines in Pakistan that you can turn to in case you or someone you know needs help.
1. Punjab Women’s Toll-Free Helpline (1043)
This helpline is for people facing gender-based discrimination, harassment, or violence. The Punjab Commission on the Status of Women (PCSW) manages the helpline. The helpline comprises of all women staff which includes three legal advisors, counselors and management team. Women can also fill a complaint form by going to the PSCW website. The link is https://www.pcswpb.org/public/complaint_form.php
2. Madadgaar National Helpline (1098)
Madadgaar is a helpline for children and women suffering from violence, abuse and harassment. It provides counseling through telephone and online mediums in addition to holding in-person sessions.
Madadgaar further provides legal aid and referral services to survivors. The helpline started in 2001 with support of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
3. Digital Rights Foundation’s Cyber Harassment Helpline (0800-39393)
This is a toll-free helpline for people who face online harassment. People can avail help by calling this number from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. It gives legal advice, counseling and referral system to the survivors.
Digital Rights Foundation was founded by renowned netizen, Nighat Dad.
4. Sahil Direct Helpline (0800-13518)
Sahil is an organization that primarily works on cases related to child sexual abuse but it also provides psychological counseling to women under Jeet Healing Center. Its toll free helpline number is 0800-13518.
Sahil started in 1996 with its Head Office in Islamabad. Further, it has four offices in Abbotabad, Jaffarabad, Lahore and Sukkur, each having its own helpline number. The Islamabad helpline number is 051-2850574, Abbotabad- 992-383880, Jaffarabad- 0838-510912 and Sukkur-071-5633615.
5. Ab Aur Nahin Website
Ab Aur Nahi is a website that provides women in Pakistan with counseling and legal aid in cases related to sexual harassment and domestic violence. It is particularly helpful for women with limited resources as it provides pro bono services through its pool of 42 lawyers.
The initiative was started by Nighat Dad.
6. Women Safety Online Application
Punjab Safe Cities Authority and the Punjab Commission on the Status of Women (PCSW) launched the Women Safety App in 2017. The app gives access to PCSW helpline, 1043.
It allows women to mark places they do not feel comfortable in as unsafe. It includes an emergency button that allows women to notify the police so a team can be dispatched to tackle the situation. Police tracks the location via Global Positioning System (GPS).
7. Hamara Internet Application
This smartphone application allows citizens to report cases of cyber harassment. This application was launched by Digital Rights Foundation in 2018. It is available for download from Google Play Store.
Are you aware of any other anti-harassment helplines in Pakistan? Share your information in the comments below.