Women's hotline popular

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 31 August, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 31 August, 1999, 12:00am

About 400 women have telephoned a free legal counselling hotline in the past seven months, with most complaining about marital problems.

The hotline, set up by the Hong Kong Federation of Women in November, provides free legal advice to women with family problems or difficulties with properties and inheritance.

A total of 386 calls were received by the end of June this year. About half the callers receive advice from the federation's lawyers either over the telephone or face-to-face.

The federation plans to expand the hotline to cover bankruptcy, financial disputes, medical care and psychological counselling.

Six out of every 10 women who called sought help with family problems.

Most sought legal advice on divorce procedures, rights to maintenance and guardianship of children.

Those with emotional problems were referred to other related organisations.

'The response to the hotline is getting better as more people know about it,' federation chairman Peggy Lam Pei Yu-dja said yesterday.

'There are inadequate legal services for women, and many of them don't want to seek advice while on the verge of getting divorced.' Callers now have to wait between three days to a week to get a reply from lawyers.

The hotline is manned by about 10 volunteers and 12 lawyers who provide free services in their spare time.

Mrs Lam said an increasing number of newly arrived mainland women were calling the hotline.