Madadgar National Helpline
Working for the last two decades, Madadgaar, an offshoot of Lawyers for Human Rights and Legal Aid (LHRLA) initially started with the support of UNICEF in Karachi. It is Pakistan’s first Helpline for children & women suffering from violence, abuse, and exploitation. Madadgaar helpline had the honor of being the first helpline in Pakistan for women and children, working for the last 13 years. During these 13 years, it received more than 119,600 calls and dealt with at least 20,700 cases of violence against women and children. It had one of the largest databanks on violence against children and women.
The daily data is collected under 71 different categories out of which 16 are computerized. Initially, this helpline worked in Sindh province only but then in collaboration with Plan International Pakistan it extended the net of its services to the whole of Pakistan with three focal points in Lahore, Peshawar, and Quetta under the banner of Madadgaar National Helpline. However, the three focal points are now defunct and all cases are reported to the Karachi office, and then delegated to the referral networks for immediate provision of help.
In Pakistan, the situation of human rights was in a state of pity and the cases of violence and abuse were endemic and increasing with every passing day. Women and girls were bearing the brunt as there was no respite to their victimization in both rural and urban areas of the country. The cases of physical, psychological, and sexual violence of women and girls were on a steep increase. Similarly, the rights of children were also being grossly violated which needed urgent attention and redressal by the government as well as civil society.
These children should be raised in a protective, encouraging, and nurturing environment where the duty bearers are responsive to their rights without any gender discrimination. Children should enjoy access to educational opportunities in an environment that supports life-long learning and development.
Keeping these issues in mind which were prevailing over our society primordially and still loom large over our society, in 1989, about 50 lawyers realizing a need for both correctional and preventive actions got together under the leadership of Mr. Zia Ahmed Awan to establish a forum that could make legal aid affordable to and within reach of these marginalized sections of the society especially women and children. They started helping the people who were detained in jails, besides providing pro bono services to women and children victims of violence under the banner of Lawyers for Human Rights and Legal Aid (LHRLA). Later, with the assistance of LHRLA, Pakistan’s first helpline for women and children Madadgaar was formed in collaboration with UNICEF, which now has become a national helpline with the assistance of Plan International Pakistan.
Madadgaar National Helpline provides telephonic counseling, face to face counseling to
Walk-in survivors, crisis intervention, guidance, legal advice, and legal aid and referral
services to children and women. This is what Madadgaar stands for and will continue doing on a larger scale in the time to come.
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