May 25, 2024, 7:39 pm

Child helpline 1098 receives highest calls for child abuse in 2023

  • Update Time : Saturday, May 11, 2024
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TDS Desk:

A 17-year old orphan girl from Banshkhali upazila of Chattogram lives with the family of her maternal uncle. Some miscreants picked her from street and gang raped her in last October. The victim tried to commit suicide. Later her uncle called at 1098 (national child helpline number) at the suggestions of the neighbors. The child helpline authorities contacted the local social welfare officer and officer-in-charge of the local police station. Police later arrested four persons involved with rape.

The Child Helpline 1098 run by the Department of Social Services received the highest number of calls regarding incidents of child abuse last year. In 2023, the helpline number received a total of 15,785 such calls which is almost double compared to 8,021 calls in 2022. The officials involved with the helpline said it never received so many calls relating to child abuse since it began its journey.

Guardians or children make calls to this number seeking remedy of torture, legal assistance, physical and mental health issues and so on.

A grocery shop owner in Satkhira’s Tala upazila called the helpline to report that a 13-year old child worker of his shop was being beaten by the owner of a nearby shop. The helpline authorities informed the local union parishad chairman, members and police station’s OC. They reached the spot, rescued the minor boy and admitted him to hospital. Later the shop owner apologized and gave a bond to the police about not doing such an act again in future.

Child Helpline 1098 is operated under the Child Sensitive Social Protection in Bangladesh (CSPB) project of the social services department with the financial support of UNICEF Bangladesh.

About more calls coming, UNICEF’s child protection expert Jamila Akter said that it cannot be ascertained whether child abuse has increased without any research. But it can be said that awareness about the helpline 1098 has increased

The helpline started operation first in 2010 as a pilot project with non-government organisation Aparajeyo Bangladesh and came under the government management in 2016. A total of 28 call agents receive calls in 24 hours in this toll-free number.

About more calls coming, UNICEF’s child protection expert Jamila Akter  said that it cannot be ascertained whether child abuse has increased without any research. But it can be said that awareness about the helpline 1098 has increased and people are getting more and more acquainted with the number. Many people now know that calling this helpline number is the go-to solution regarding any problems the children face.

The number of calls might increase from this trust, she added.

325,414 calls in 2023:

According to the helpline authorities, the number received a total of 325,414 calls in 2023. The highest of these calls, over 169,000, were made seeking different information.

Last year, apart from child abuse-related calls, there were 1,613 calls on legal issues, 1,893 on relationship-related issues, 8,528 on psycho-social issues, 8,399 on physical ailments, 6,243 on school issues, 636 on drug use, 8229 on being at risk, 19900 prank calls and 85,729 other calls.

Last year, apart from child abuse-related calls, there were 1,613 calls on legal issues, 1,893 on affair-related issues, 8,528 on psychosocial issues, 8,399 on physical ailments, 6,243 on school issues, 636 on drug use, 8229 on being at risk, 19900 prank calls and 85,729 other calls.

The number of total calls in 2022 was over 185,000 in 2022, around 162,000 and around 200,000 in 2020.

Child helpline’s coordinator Chowdhury Mohammad Mohaimen said that parents often call to know what should be done after their children get abused or face any other problems. The number of calls related to child abuse was the highest last year.

He said the local social welfare officers and social workers are set to spot based on necessity. Some children need legal support while some need mental support. Many children don’t get enough attention from parents and the misconception they have regarding their parents are dealt with through psychosocial counseling.

Asked about the allegation of call drop, Chowdhury Mohaimen said this happens due to inadequate manpower in the call center.

UNICEF’s Jamila Akter termed the helpline a lifesaving initiative for the children.

She said the helpline would be fully run by the government from 2025 and UNICEF would only provide technical assistance.

The range of the service and manpower would increase further once the facility would be operated fully by the government, she added.

 

 

 

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