Human Services Ministry launches 914 emergency line for abuse victims

The Ministry of Human Services and Social Security has partnered with UNICEF and several telecommunications entities to launch a 914 toll-free hotline for persons experiencing domestic abuse. 

The Ministry collaborated with UNICEF, Digicel Guyana, Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company (GTT) and the Guyana Telecommunications Agency to create a safe space for men, women and child abuse victims to seek help. 

During the launch on Thursday at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre, Dr. Persaud said the emergency hotline is one where help is readily available. 

“Let us make 914 a hotline with a difference because it is answered and behind that answer, there is tangible help; help that can change someone’s life, help that can give them a future and help that can save a life.”

The Minister explained that help would go beyond the conventional method once persons utilise the service. She announced that skills training would be provided for adults because poverty is a contributing factor to domestic violence. 

“I understand when you don’t have any support, you don’t know what to do with yourself. So, with training and movement towards financial independence through our cottage industries that will be rolled out in addition to the one we already have; I have no doubt we are in for a future where we are going to tackle something that the world grapples with – violence.”  

During a virtual meeting of the Commonwealth Ministers for Women’s Affairs and Gender and Development on the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Persaud announced the government’s roll-out of projects for cottage industries led by women so that they could secure their livelihoods.

While the Ministry is cognisant that no system is perfect, it will be monitored continuously and “every time there is a void or gap” it will be fixed.  

Minister Persaud emphasised that for this to work, stakeholders need to respond effectively and immediately to calls for help.

“Once that person calls in and the necessary is done at the police station and hospital, they will be linked to a survivor’s advocate who will be able to walk with them, take their hand and hold it all the way to the conclusion of their case. That is the kind of support we want to see the people have.” 

Meanwhile, Head of Business Sales for Digicel Guyana, Ms. Nalini Vieira said the project had been in the pipelines for some months and is adaptable for expansion. The line also caters for redundancy, she said. 

“This means that if a system goes down, they’ll have another one to be able to still take calls so you will not be without service,” she explained.

When a call is placed between the hours of 08:00hrs and 16:30hrs, it would be routed to a trained customer service operator, who, in turn, will connect the call to a Social Worker. Calls made after working hours and during weekends will be routed to the mobile handsets of Social Workers where all calls will be addressed with confidentiality. The Social Workers will provide necessary consultations and refer children and parents to local service providers and other relevant agencies. 

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