CPL a helpline for women in distress — Fatimah

KUCHING: Sarawak Women for Women Society (SWWS), through their Crisis Phoneline (CPL), serves as an important support system for women who have trouble coping with change in lifestyles.

“In this time of change, SWWS and CPL become even more relevant because of the change in lifestyle,” said Women, Welfare and Family Development Minister Datuk Fatimah Abdullah.

Speaking at the Crisis Phoneline 25th Anniversary Dinner on Saturday, Fatimah said lifestyles evolved with development of information and communication technology (ICT), rural-urban migration, and modernisation processes.

“We, especially those in the government sector, cannot just focus on economic development alone. We want to become a developed nation by 2020, but we must never forget other aspects like social development.”

She added that there needed to be a focus on the social, emotional and spiritual development.

“Government efforts alone would not be sufficient if we were asked to develop these areas.”

The CPL not only provides an outlet for women who needed a listening ear, but is staffed with trained para-counsellors. It is an anonymous platform for ladies who want to talk through their problems.

“The para-counsellors will not know who you are, but that is something comforting. Sometimes, we don’t want people to know we have problems.”

She pointed out that the process of talking makes the problem clearer to the person undergoing difficulties in their life.

“If we keep it to ourselves, sometimes we don’t know the cause or how to solve it. When we verbalise or even write it, we are actually listening to ourselves. Then we find our way through the problem. That’s the beauty of having someone to listen.”

SWWS also runs programmes such as Children’s Personal Safety programme for primary school children, particularly those in Primary 4 to 6.

Since 2009, SWWS is actively carrying out its outreach programme “Empowering Rural Girls” in Baram with the sponsorship and help of the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry, as well as the state’s ministry through the Women’s Bureau.

The programme seeks to raise awareness and empower girls and women in remote rural areas about the various forms of sexual exploitation and abusive relationships, and how to protect themselves.

It also  trains  the local community, including people working in rural schools and clinics, to share such knowledge and provide assistance to those who needed it.

“It would be good to extend this programme to urban areas because violence towards women, according to records provided by PDRM, also happens in urban areas.”

Fatimah added that the Women’s Bureau, which is also celebrating its 25th anniversary, felt that it was high time to upgrade their facilities to include a proper training centre.

As both share similar objectives, Fatimah extended an invitation to SWWS to make use of the training centre.

“You are always free to use the facilities FOC (free of charge). That’s what Women’s Bureau is for,” she said, adding that they would also set up an information and resource centre.

The  pioneering  Crisis  Phoneline began in 1988 when there was  little awareness of women’s

issues. They have been lending an ear to troubles such as heartaches over floundering marriages, concern for children, and difficulties at work.

The phoneline has also alerted SWWS to other problems in society, such as the trafficking of women and new forms of Internet crimes, such as scammers posing as genuine friends.

In her speech, SWWS president Margaret Bedus congratulated the CPL volunteers and put out a call for more to join their ranks. Training will be provided.

Those who need a listening ear can call CPL at 082-422660.

Their operating hours are 7pm-9pm (Mon), 2pm-4pm, 7pm-9pm (Tue), 9am-11am (Wed), 9am-11am, 7pm-9pm (Thu), and 7pm-9pm (Fri).


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