3,700 calls made to national helpline for family violence in first 6 months this year

There was a sharp rise in the number of child abuse cases being investigated last year.
There was a sharp rise in the number of child abuse cases being investigated last year.PHOTO ILLUSTRATION: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - There were about 3,700 calls made to a 24-hour helpline for the public to report family violence in the first six months of this year.

Minister of State for Social and Family Development Sun Xueling revealed this figure for the National Anti-Violence Helpline, which started operations in January, during the launch of the Alliance for Action to Strengthen Marriages and Family Relationships on Wednesday (Aug 4).

She said the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) received about 6,420 inquiries on family violence last year - a 44 per cent increase from 4,450 in 2019.

The number of family violence cases investigated by MSF rose by 13 per cent, from about 1,310 cases in 2019 to 1,480 last year.

One area the Alliance hopes to look into is the rehabilitation of the person who inflicted the violence on his or her family members, Ms Sun said.

The president of the Singapore Muslim Women's Association (PPIS) Hazlina Abdul Halim said the stress of having to stay at home for prolonged periods during the Covid-19 pandemic could lead to increased tension at home.

Coupled with more financial stressors caused by the pandemic, and marital and parenting woes, this could all add to greater tension and even violence, she added.

In particular, there was a sharp rise in the number of child abuse cases being investigated last year, with the MSF's Child Protective Service probing 1,313 cases, 21 per cent more than the 1,088 cases in 2019.

While the pandemic-related stressors could have led to more abuse at home, the MSF previously said the rise in child abuse cases being investigated was due to more outreach efforts and public awareness of family violence.

Ms Sun, who co-chairs the inter-agency task force to tackle family violence formed last year, said on Wednesday that it will release its recommendations very soon.