Women victims of violence offered help from new Singapore website

The portal contains information for women and concerned citizens about the types and cycle of violence. PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM ACTAGAINSTVIOLENCE.COM.SG

SINGAPORE - Women who need help dealing with sexual assault, family violence, workplace harassment or other types of violence can now turn to a new website.

The portal, dubbed Awareness, Connect, Take Precaution or A.C.T Against Violence, contains details on who victims can contact and where they can get help.

Launched by the Singapore Council of Women's Organisations (SCWO) on Monday (Nov 30), it also contains information for women and concerned citizens about the types and cycle of violence.

At the launch event, Minister of State for Social and Family Development as well as Education Sun Xueling said: "The Government is determined to tackle the issue of family violence.

"This is why the Taskforce on Family Violence, comprising public agencies, the courts and community partners such as hospitals, family violence specialist centres, crisis shelters and family service centres, was set up earlier this year to create awareness of the issue, and provide better support to victims."

Ms Sun said community partnerships were important in the Government's efforts to keep every woman in Singapore safe.

In her speech, she also cited figures from the Family Justice Courts, which last year received more than 2,400 applications for Personal Protection Orders against an abusive family member. About 75 per cent of these were made by women.

"Through the website, women experiencing violence can receive more information, and make more informed choices to address their situation," she said.

Ms Sun added that bystanders and professionals can also go on the website and be equipped with the necessary resources to better support victims of violence.

SCWO president Junie Foo said the new site serves as a one-stop resource for all things related to violence against women.

She said: "The platform is aimed to increase awareness and understanding of different forms of abuse. We worked with the Ministry of Social and Family Development and the Ministry of Home Affairs in piecing together essential information and helplines to aid victims and the community to take precautions against violence."

The website's launch comes amid a spike in cases of violence against women this year.

The SCWO saw a 10 per cent increase in callers requesting assistance during the circuit breaker. From April 7 to May 6, there were 476 police reports filed for offences commonly associated with family violence - 22 per cent higher than the monthly average of 389before the circuit breaker period.

Globally, the pandemic has intensified violence against women.

Ms Bandana Rana, vice-chair of the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women Committee and a keynote speaker at the address, said Covid-19 has led to a surge in domestic abuse cases worldwide. She added that stunted social support services, a lack of intervention from neighbours and confinement at home with perpetrators of violence due to Covid-19 were some of the reasons for the rise in several countries.

In September, Minister for Home Affairs and Law K. Shanmugam announced a comprehensive review of issues affecting gender inequality that will culminate in a White Paper to be delivered in Parliament in the first half of next year.

Speaking at the start of a virtual dialogue on Sept 20, Mr Shanmugam said that while Singapore has taken great strides to level the playing field for women, gender equality remains a work in progress.

More information on the A.C.T Against Violence website can be found here.

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