Tag Archives: domestic violence

Workshop on Domestic Violence

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Workshop on domestic violence-2

Workshop on domestic violence-1Perak Women for Women Society (PWW), in collaboration with the All Women’s Action Society (AWAM), organised a workshop on Domestic Violence (DV) on Saturday, September 7 at Impiana Hotel Ipoh. This workshop, which was fully funded by KL Sogo, was aimed at bringing greater awareness on the issues of domestic violence to the public, and to better understand its impact on Muslim women especially.

The first speaker, Halida Mohd Ali, Vice President of PWW, spoke on the occurrence and prevalence of DV, why it happens, and the challenges faced when handling victims. This was followed by a presentation by Mangaleswary, President-Elect and Legal Adviser of PWW, on Domestic Violence Act 1994 and the legal protection accorded for victims of domestic violence.

A panel discussion, consisting of speakers from the various service providers, was next. Dr Azmir Anuar, physician of the Emergency and Trauma Department of Hospital Raja Permaisuri Bainun, Ipoh spoke on the One Stop Crisis Centre at the hospital and how it treats those suffering from injuries caused by domestic violence. DSP Siti Azzah of D11 of the Criminal Investigation Department of the Royal Malaysia Police related the roles of her department in issuing Interim Protection Orders (IPO) for victims of domestic violence.

Department of Social Welfare Perak’s Prakash Kumar described the various services provided by the department. Kartina from Sisters in Islam quoted verses from the Koran relating to the treatment of women. Finally, Associate Professor Dr Mohammad Abdul Rahman, a consultant psychiatrist and Deputy Dean of Universiti Kuala Lumpur, Royal College of Medicine, Perak, enlightened the 100-odd participants on how victims of domestic violence undergo trauma, feel helpless and trapped and go into depression.

A legal clinic was set up by the Perak Legal Aid Department offering free legal advice and information on laws to protect victims of DV.

Mrs Malaysia Universe, Mrs Carol Lee, who represented KL Sogo, in her opening remarks, asked that all work together to stop the carnage from spreading. Carol Lee is currently on a nationwide campaign against domestic violence with KL Sogo and AWAM.

It was an informative forum for all.

Ed

Hassle of Making a Report

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by Fathol Zaman Bukhari

Army Act 1972 contains all the laws governing good military behaviour. Unfortunately, the Act has no provisions for domestic violence…

It is no walk in the park when making a Police report, especially when the victim is a battered woman who has been treated as a punching bag by her abusive husband. The experience is definitely not for the faint hearted. I was privy to one such incident recently and can vouch for its authenticity.

The volunteer of an Ipoh-based NGO brought this Indian lady, who had suffered physical injuries as a result of beatings by her soldier husband, to the police station to lodge a report. The police officer on duty was helpful to an extent. As the recording progressed it took a different turn when he asked that the matter be referred to the military police, as the husband was a soldier.

Report to the Military Police? What a dumb suggestion. For a start, the Military Police (MP) is not in the business of policing soldiers who beat their wives. If he is referring to regimental police of army units they too are not tasked for such a job. The 2nd Infantry Brigade Headquarters, Ipoh has only a detachment of Military Police consisting of about 25 personnel led by a subaltern. They are part and parcel of the headquarters. The primary duty of this MP detachment is to enforce discipline on soldiers within the brigade. They, however, excel in one responsibility which is so often required of them – preparing road signs. You see these signs often at traffic junctions – black metal plates with white letterings on them with the distinctive arrow pointing up or sideways.

This particular police officer’s line of questioning made it obvious that he was still unfamiliar with the extent of the Domestic Violence Act 1994. The Act, passed by Parliament in 1994, is to provide protection to victims of domestic violence and is applicable to wives, husbands and children below the age of 18. It is applicable to all Malaysians regardless of race, religion and gender. The Act is consistent with Article 8 of the Federal Constitution.

One other point I frequently harp on at public forums, is the role of the armed forces. Fair, the military is a discipline body, this is a fact. Needless to say, soldiers are being guided by a set of rules they have to obey. Otherwise, it makes a mockery of soldiering if the men in uniform are free to act on their own.

Army Act 1972, which replaced the antiquated Malay Regiment Enactment 1948, contains all the laws governing good military behaviour. Unfortunately, the Act has no provisions for domestic violence. The military, therefore, cannot act on personnel who beat up their spouses and children. The Military Police has no powers of arrest for such improprieties. However, the military can take action on soldiers who are being penalised by a civil court. If imprisoned, even for a day, they can be dishonourably discharged from service. This is an administrative action taken to keep the good name of the armed forces intact. Similarly, if the soldiers are involved in drugs, either as pushers or users, they can be discharged upon conviction in a civil court of law.

When a report is made or received from the Police or welfare officers, an Interim Protection Order (IPO) is issued by a civil court of law. The order is to prevent the abuser from further harming the victim. IPO is valid for not more than 12 months from the date it is issued.

Before the victim can make the mandatory police report, one other indignant she has to suffer is at the Ipoh General Hospital. A medical report compliments a police report in order to make the case stick. This poor Indian lady had to wait over four hours at the emergency room for her turn to be called.

There is a system of check and balance, after all. BAKAT (Badan Kebajikan Angkatan Tentera) is a social club for military wives. Every military unit has a club which is helmed by the unit commander’s wife. Had the lady made use of BAKAT to report her husband’s violence, the matter would have been resolved a long time ago. Unfortunately, she has only a vague idea of its existence.

Perak’s Shameful Statistic

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By Mariam Mokhtar

Every day in Perak, around 10 women or children, fall victim to domestic violence. On November 1, it was reported that 97% of the 3,600 cases of violence against women, children and babies in the previous year, were perpetrated by men. Wanita Umno chief, Rosnah Kassim said, “Something must be done to curb the increasing trend of cases in the state.”

Repeated Cycle
Earlier in the year, on May 5, Dr. Sharifah Halimah Jaafar said that ‘there were still people who see domestic violence as trivial…. to be settled privately between husband and wife’. She said, “Cases of women being beaten up by their husbands are not a one-off matter. It is a cycle that has happened many times.” Despite various public awareness campaigns, men continue to treat their wives as personal chattels, to treat as they please and to discard at their leisure.

Grim Statistics
In a report compiled by the Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO), with data sourced from the police, the figures make grim reading.

Every year the police receive in excess of 3,000 reports of domestic violence. Apart from a dip in 2002 and 2003 which could be attributed to increased awareness or possibly under-reporting, the trend of attacks against women is on the rise. The same occurs for rape, incest and child abuse. Nevertheless, few people realise that the figures compiled refer to reported cases only. The true figure is higher.

Mammoth Task
If Wanita Umno reported that Perak has the most cases of violence, then the task that is faced by women’s organisations such as the Perak Women for Women (PWW) is a mammoth one. On October 31, the PWW held the ‘Men against violence campaign’ at the Polo Ground in Ipoh. There were various activities and free ice-cream for participants.

The aim was to increase awareness among the public, and include men and families, in the day’s event. The irony of this campaign was that it was the women who organised, managed and ran the event, for which the men’s contribution was to either officiate or join in the activities.

Domestic Violence Act
Many women have not heard of the Domestic Violence Act (DVA) 1994 which says that domestic violence is a crime punishable by law. Besides their ignorance, women are reluctant to lodge police-reports. They fear being humiliated, ridiculed or even blamed for the violence. They fear for their future if the only breadwinner in the family – the man, is jailed. Others fear for their children’s safety. Although 3,600 cases were reported in Perak last year, the chances are that more women are affected.

Violence against women includes domestic violence, rape, sexual violence, sexual harassment, trafficking and sexual exploitation. Most of the time, this violence is committed by men who are in a close relationship with the women, or who are known to them. These women suffer bruising, broken limbs, miscarriages, mental and physical scars, risk of pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases or HIV/AIDS. Some women die from the attacks.

Great Losses Incurred
The damage in human and economic terms is also great. Loss of income, hospitalisation, medical treatment, family care, incapacitation, disability, deprivation and absence from work or school, are some of the ways the violence manifests itself.

Unfortunately, our culture can stand in the way of helping these abused women. Ours is a male-dominated society where women are afraid or are reluctant to report such crimes, thus bringing further shame onto the family. Many children may also witness the abuse of their mothers or sisters, but are afraid of reporting when threatened by the perpetrators.

The way forward is for the community to realise that women who are abused are protected by the law. Promotional campaigns, information leaflets in hospitals, clinics, community halls, places of worship and education in schools, all help. People must be prepared to come forward and report any suspected cases of abuse either in their own family or community.

We must break the social taboos and speak out against the violence towards women because to keep silent means that their suffering will continue unabated. Ours should be a vision of a society where our womenfolk can lead a normal life free from violence or even the threat of violence.