A 'helpline' for victims of violence
A survey recently published in the United States reveals that every 45 seconds in America a woman is sexually or physically assaulted. The victims number 700,000 yearly.
These women desperately need someone to confide in and would like to talk to their personal physicians, but doctors are often too clumsy or insensitive to counsel victims of violence. The American Medical Association has issued guidelines to help doctors improve their skills. Most assault victims are under the age of 18. They suffer from trauma and depression. Yet they are quite reluctant to reveal their plight. Doctors are being advised to identify such victims. They are in a better position to identify and treat these victims and are reminded to be alert for physical signs of abuse.
Violence has became a daily routine in American life. The negative effect of television and films, the declining moral standards and the breakup of the family has rendered many young females helpless. To make things worse, the assailant is most often a lover, friend, acquaintance or relative.
In America, apart from doctors involvement, there are telephone services called Helplines that these unfortunate women talk to. These lines are manned by professional psychologists who advise the callers free of charge.
Violence has become a part of modern life. In many countries wife-battering has taken enormous proportion. In the Arab world also there must be many women who are victims of violence. Some of these write to female magazines. Others try to get help from friends or relatives. But the majority remain silent because they have nowhere to turn to.
Last week, there was a news item in this daily about the arrest of a young man under the caption "Rude Youth Arrested". This news item, appeared along with a smart-looking photograph of the youth, caught my eyes. The police statement said: "Dubai Police, in keeping with the instructions of Dubai Crown Prince, Defense Minister and Chairman of Dubai Police and General Security General Sheikh Mohammed ibn Rashid Al-Maktoum, have arrested a youth who was harassing girls in a shopping mall."
Now it is high time that we should also establish Helplines to help these poor people in our part of the world. As they say in America, you cannot solve a problem unless you identify it. We have many social problems. These are the effect of the rapid technological transformation that overtook the area because of the oil boom. The migration from rural to urban areas, the induction of females in the work force, the opening up of new channels of thoughts as a result of the satellite "invasion" made inroads into the psyche of a large segment of the population.
Many could not comprehend or keep up pace with the development. This resulted in turbulent minds which went from the extreme to the sublime.
The government in the area set up social centers catering to the needs of the people. However, these centers have bureaucratic parameters and as such are limited. It is therefore imperative that non-governmental organizations (NGOs) like Helpline, Child Abuse Counseling, Dial for Help, etc. be set up. These should be manned by qualified and well-experienced people who will offer free and expert professional services to those in need.
Unfortunately, this is lacking. In some of the Gulf countries, there are voluntary organizations but they are far and few. They are supposed to function in a rigid fashion. This is not right. Organizations catering to public needs should be allowed to function unhindered and to respond to people's needs as quickly as possible.
There are many who suffer from various ailments - psychological, physical and social. They have gone through traumas. They need a helping hand that is extended without question.
Let us reach out to them.