In all societies measures are taken and programmes designed and executed to respond to people’s needs and reduce their problems. Our country, Iran, is no exception to this rule. Although these programmes can vary from country to country depending on existing circumstances, but what is important is that these problems are recognised and appropriate solutions are implemented.
One of these programmes in Iran is the “Social Emergency Programme” which is the result of years of campaign of the National Welfare Organization in the Socially Damaged Affairs Bureau. This programme is a combination of intervention in individual, family and social crises (Social Emergency Centre) the Social emergency telephone hotline, social emergency mobile unit (mobile social services),the social emergency base (social services base), which in the first place have been designed with the aim of society oriented empowerment and prevention of social damages.
The Social Emergency Programme in the Social Deputy of the National Welfare Organization was launched in 1999 with work crisis intervention centres. From 2004, the “123” hotline was added and in 2009 mobile services units were also added and social emergency was formed.
In this programme the important characteristic of presentation of social services means “being specialised”, “be on time” and “be available”, so that through the presentation of social services to the public it is not limited to time and place in the National Welfare Organization, and active approach replaces inactive approach. Also, this programme intends to replace police and judicial interventions, or even alongside these interventions, with social psychological interventions, which plays a key role in crime prevention.
The target groups of this programme are couples that want divorce, and individuals who have critical family disputes, addicts, senior citizens, socially damaged women and girls, child labourers and street children, those with gender identity disorders, abused spouses and children, suicidal individuals, runaway girls and boys and other individuals that are in crisis situations for whatever reasons, and are subjected to domestic violence. Social emergency centres have even considered shelters for those who due to particular problems cannot spend the night at home, so that the abused are protected. Specialised services of this programme too are social work, psychological, raising, legal, cultural and educational services.
In mid-February this year, the director of the National Social Emergency announced that around 300 social services bases have been set up in marginalised regions and 2500 social workers and psychologists are working in these centres. Furthermore, he deemed one of the performance problems of service providing of these programmes as cultural taboos, meaning that in most instances, for example if neighbours notice child abuse taking place, but they do not report it or even do not dare call the emergency number, whereas this is the social accountability debate.
Since according to article 5 of the Child and Juvenile Protection Act, child abuse is a public crime and does not require a private plaintiff, people must be informed that whenever they notice domestic violence around them to immediately report it, giving full address, to the police or social emergency. The calls are recorded and immediate reaction will take place. Also, if we notice a case of violence against children, women and men on the streets and public places we must immediately report our observation to the police.
Of course it must be explained that the social emergency services are not permitted to take physical action. But can report incidents to the police and relevant authorities and they can be present and wait for the police to arrive away from the incident, outside of the home where the incident has been reported from, and in public places.
We hope that with the increase in these services, publicity and public information dissemination, the expansion of legal mechanisms and the actions of NGOs, the protection of the abused individuals, children in particular will increase in order to prevent follow up social damages from occurring.