Tue, Dec 14, 2004 - Page 4 News List

MOI says abuse helpline to grow

By Cody Yiu  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Ministry of the Interior (MOI) announced that the foreign-spouse domestic violence helpline has been found to be highly effective and it is planning to provide more information services by telephone.

In a recent study released by the Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Prevention Committee under the MOI, less than 1 percent of phone calls received through the helpline was in connection with domestic violence.

The helpline, which was established in July last year, recorded a volume of 8,000 phone calls over 19 months. Despite the large volume, only 66 callers needed domestic violence protection, while others typically requested legal, residency, social welfare, translation or employment advice.

"Whenever a call comes in that is not about protection from domestic abuse, we will transfer the call to appropriate places to be answered. Since utilizing this helpline for other purposes is not very efficient economically, the MOI plans to transform the helpline next year into a line dedicated to advice and information," Lin Tsyr-ling (林慈玲), executive secretary of the committee, said yesterday.

As the existing `113' Women and Children's Domestic Abuse Helpline will be offering services in foreign languages, the MOI will retain the number for protection resources and to allow the 0800 helpline to serve other purposes.

The MOI's department of population will be in charge of creating the information helpline.

The 0800-088-885 helpline offers services in English, Thai, Indonesian, Vietnamese and Cambodian. The project is outsourced to the Pearl S. Buck Foundation.

During regular office hours, the foundation has staff members who are fluent in foreign languages on duty to answer incoming calls.

If a caller is identified as an abused foreign spouse, the foundation will seek help from the relevant authorities on behalf of the caller, as well as provide translation services. The committee said that it was very pleased by the performance of the foundation in this regard.

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