Tag Archives: Perak Women for Women

Spousal Abuse on the Rise


“It’s an accepted fact that spousal abuse is on the rise today,” Dr Sharifah Halimah told reporters after speaking at a forum on domestic violence and child abuse in Jelapang recently. The one-day forum was organised by the Perak State Health Department and assisted by government agencies and non-governmental organisations.

The President of the Perak Women for Women Society alluded to statistics to substantiate her claim. “Over 70 per cent of working women are being abused, mentally and physically, daily,” she lamented. The reality on the ground is most disturbing as such abuses are not confined to women alone but to children, as well. The negativity it will cause is far-reaching as they will have a profound effect on the mental and physical well being of the victims.

“Women must be resolute in countering these abuses. They should not adopt a passive attitude fearing the loss of dignity and face should they act irrationally,” she reasoned. “Don’t treat women as objects to vent men’s frustration, as punching bags, so to speak. Women’s reluctance to react is not a sign of their weakness. To them, maintaining the family’s integrity is paramount.”

The open forum was targeted at the men folks but, unfortunately, only the oldies were present. Nonetheless, the objective of the discussion was achieved. Beside talks by speakers, well versed on the issue of domestic violence, the audience got to see pictures of abused women and children and posters abhorring violence of all kinds on display in the council-owned Jelapang hall.

Ayob Mohd Hassan, 65, from Slim River commended the organisers for a splendid show. “The forum is very informative,” he said. He, however, blamed technology and modern lifestyles for all the ills that are affecting mankind. “We’ve to fall back to religion to overcome these woes.”

Norashikin Mokthar, 40, from Taman Jati, Ipoh was pleased with what she saw and heard. “It’s an excellent way to showcase the effects of domestic violence,” she said. She felt that the ones who needed such exposures are the newly-weds. “They should be made to attend this forum.”


Do You Have the Skills to Survive?


In one way or another, everyone is affected by crime, either personally or through someone close. Even MB Dato’ Seri Diraja Dr. Zambry Abd. Kadir, when opening the ‘City Survival Skills” workshop in Ipoh recently, had a personal account of an incident involving a loved one.

He does not take this lightly especially when it involves women. “I want to see everyone move around without fear,” he said, “and is entitled and subject to protection from the state.” Hence the state’s vision “Perak Amanjaya”.

The workshop was sponsored by Yayasan Bakti Nusa, an NGO which is the brainchild of former transport minister Dato’ Sri Ong Tee Keat, and organised by Perak Women for Women (PWW) and 12 Perak Chinese Women NGOs with the support of the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development.

Capt. K. Balasupramaniam, a Safety Activist with 19 years experience in emergency search and rescue, began the all-women workshop akin to saying, ‘I have something very important to tell you so you’d better listen’. It would be too simplistic to list the dos and don’ts for being safe without attending the workshop. The statistics and facts that Balasupramaniam lay before the audience were backed by case studies of real-life crimes which have, at one time or another, appeared in the news; needless to say, it was heart wrenching to watch.

He talked about how to be aware of the different safety level zones and how to diffuse a potential- or high-risk situation; what works and doesn’t; how to be safe in the home, at petrol stations, in car parks, taking a taxi; spy cameras; date-rape drugs and how they are used; etc. By role playing, Balasupramaniam injected a lot of humour into an otherwise serious subject. But one thing was certain, he got his message across loud and clear.

One participant wanted her story of when she was molested, in broad daylight and at a public place, to be highlighted. She reported it and the perpetrator was caught. Even though she was not injured, she did not make light of it but thought of her daughter and ‘fought back’. In a way, it showed the culprit (and others) that this sort of behaviour cannot and will not be tolerated. If left unchecked it, he would probably have gone on to worse crimes. The message was clear that when faced with a dangerous or uncomfortable situation, one must be prepared to use whatever means necessary, with whatever knowledge one has, to survive.

More than 300 women attended the workshop and took away with them invaluable information. Hopefully, there will be another workshop in the near future.

In closing, Dr. Sharifah Halimah Jaafar, President of Perak Women for Women (PWW), reiterated their stance in fighting any violence against women and thanked all the relevant NGOs and ministry. More workshops on this topic will certainly be most welcome.

Perak Women for Women (PWW) can be contacted at:
52 Jalan Sultan Azlan Shah, 31400 Ipoh. Tel.: 05-5469715.


Obedient Wives’ Club


By Fathol Zaman Bukhari

There has been much furore over the formation of the Obedient Wives’ Club by a fringe Islamic group causing heated debate among women and men, alike. Ipoh Echo sought the views of two Malay Muslim women who helm a women’s rights movement here in Ipoh. Dr Sharifah Halimah Jaafar and Puan Halida Mohd Ali are from the Perak Women for Women Society. Here are their answers to our questions:

IE: Your views on the formation of the Obedient Wives’ Club by Islamic fringe group, Global Ikhwan on Saturday, June 4.

Dr Sharifah Halimah Jaafar, Perak Women for Women

SHARIFAH: Obedient Wives’ Club (OWC) is a farce. It has belittled and insulted women’s role as a wife. Their calling on women to behave like first-class prostitutes in order to keep their husbands satisfied so they will not stray has reduced women’s status to that of a legal prostitute – a sex slave, so to speak. The fact that the statement is being made by a woman is in itself disgusting! We are not a sex object at the beck and call of our husbands. Healthy marriages develop from mutual understanding, love, trust, respect and having similar visions for the family. This club should instead be dubbed, “The Stupid Wives’ Club” or “The Hot Wives’ Club”.

HALIDA: The club is an affront to women’s dignity. It sees women as subservient individuals who have no minds of their own. Are the club’s members themselves obedient and exemplary? Are they, being what they are, qualified to counsel us on morality? The club should instead find ways to improve marriage, parenting and empowerment. This is more beneficial.

IE: Can the formation of this club cure social ills such as prostitution and divorce, as claimed by Dr Rohayah Mohamad, one of the club’s founders and its vice president?

SHARIFAH: OWC is another manifestation of the persistent women-blaming syndrome that dominates discussions on social issues such as divorce, prostitution, sexual abuse and domestic violence. During the launch of OWC, Rohayah said, and I quote, “It’s important to be good sexual workers so that the husbands don’t go to prostitutes.”  Her assumption is based on a polygamous experience consistent with the community she lives in. In her closed community, men take another wife because their sexual needs are not being met by their existing wives. Rohayah not only tarnishes women’s dignity, she blames her own kind for the cause of social ills. Becoming a first-class hooker will not stop a man from marrying another woman or ensure his fidelity. Neither will it guarantee that incest and rape will not occur.

While society is concerned about baby dumping, unplanned pregnancies, Mat Rempits, bullying, drug abuses, etc. this group of housewives is offering advice to women on how to improve their sexual performance in bed. They should instead find ways on how to be better parents to their kids. Rohayah should do some homework before making far-fetched statements.

The formation of this club will not curb social ills. It will probably add to the problems. Women living in fear will choose to remain silent because they are afraid to be seen as being disobedient to the husbands. PWW has come across women who have been sexually abused by their husbands, sodomised and forced to have sex everyday, regardless of their health and emotional well-being. They suffered in silence for many years until they couldn’t bear it any longer. Most of them felt degraded and suffered a loss of self-esteem. I have encountered a man who got his wife pregnant 13 times. He accused his spouse of being unable to sexually satisfy him and asked me if I had medication to revitalise his wife. The poor woman had to care for and raise his 13 children.

Puan Halida Mohd Ali, Perak Women for Women

HALIDA: The formation of OWC will not cure social problems, per se. Whether or not the wife is a tramp (in bed), the husband will still stray. Men say that marrying another wife is to prevent sin but infidelity is already a sin. Islamic laws allow men to marry 4 wives. The hadith says, “You can marry 4 wives and must be fair to all but if you cannot be fair, then just marry one”. Can they be fair? Wives and children in polygamous marriages are not happy.

The children are usually involved in undesirable activities because the father’s attention is divided. The first wife is always sidelined, as the man concentrates on his younger wives. This creates inadequacy, anger and jealousy among the womenfolk. No amount of seduction will bring the husband back.

IE: Malaysia’s divorce rate has doubled from 2002 to 2009. The rates among

Malay Muslims are higher compared to the other races. What are the primary causes?

SHARIFAH: According to statistics, the divorce rates for Malay and Non-Malay have increased equally. Almost 50-60% of reasons for marriage failures are due to infidelity on the part of men. Not only men file for divorce, a significant number of women also file for

divorce for a multitude of reasons – irreconcilable differences, falling out of love, domestic violence, drug abuse, communication problems, problems with in-laws, etc. There is no justification in imposing on the wife the burden of making a marriage work. A failed marriage is not the fault of one spouse only. Marriage is a partnership akin to a contract between two individuals. It takes two to tango. Men too must learn how to make their wives happy and remain loyal, both in good and bad times.

HALIDA: The divorce rate is high, especially among young Malay couples. This is due to their marrying young. They are ill-prepared for responsibilities that come with marriage. Parents insist on their children marrying early to avoid the sins of intimacy. Most of these young husbands don’t hold proper jobs; indulge in substance abuse and extra-marital affairs. Women are frequently reminded of their pivotal role in marriage but not the men. Men are not told to respect women, practise good values and be good leaders and providers. The emphasis is more on their being exemplary Muslims, pray 5 times a day and follow the Sunnah. The tendency to deviate is therefore greater, as they are susceptible to external influences. Islamic laws on marriage and divorce should be tightened to avoid divorce by utterance (deliberate in most cases) and via text messaging.


IE: “Disobedient wives are the cause of upheaval in this world because men are not happy at home and their minds and souls are disturbed,” said Dr Rohayah. Your comments.

SHARIFAH: This is a typical example of blaming women for men’s behaviour or seeking justifications for men’s actions or inactions. To Rohayah’s understanding, men’s minds and souls are controlled by their sexual orientations rather than by their intelligence. If a man is sexually satisfied by his wife only then will he be happy and can think straight. If not, God knows what’s going happen. He might lose control and rape a minor, commit adultery and abuse his wife and what not. This logic is nonsensical. Rohayah needs to learn that every man and woman is responsible for his or her actions. Isn’t that what we teach our children about cause and effect and action and consequence?

HALIDA: Rohayah blaming women for men’s behaviour is uncalled for. We should respect ourselves and not become a doormat. We are neither chattels nor first-class prostitutes. Why must we be responsible for our husbands’ actions? If he is grateful and treasures his wife he would not go astray. Marriage is a team effort. Both parties should work hard to make it work. Men should also learn how to give pleasure to their women, as sex is reciprocal. There must be commitment, communication, trust, respect, love, honesty and faithfulness.

If the wife is unsatisfied in bed can she go astray? I have known of many wives who are denied sex or being rebuffed. Most suffer in silence. The daring ones would look for a lover. A friend tried all the seduction techniques on her husband but her marriage still failed. If a man wants to stray nothing in this world can stop him.

It’s not disobedient wives that are causing the problems but irresponsible husbands. Period.

IE: The club consists of about 800 members at the time of reporting. Most are members of Global Ikhwan, which is an offshoot of the banned Al-Arqam Islamic Group outlawed in 1994 for deviationist teachings. Do you honestly think that the club, with its idealistic intentions, will get the support of conservative-thinking Muslim women in the country? Will it take root here in Perak?

SHARIFAH: Many rational-thinking Muslim women, like me, find this ideology absurd. It is not at all surprising, as these women’s minds are being shaped by banned deviationist teachings. Like I have said, they probably want to reinvent themselves in order to be relevant and to make a comeback to mainstream activities. They want to get as much attention as possible, that’s why they pick an UMNO leader to launch their club with a lavish western dinner accompanied by music and songs. Their primitive mind-set has not only succeeded in getting the local but the international media abuzz.

On whether it will take root here in Perak, it all depends on Perakians’ understanding of Islamic teachings. Islam encourages its followers to conduct their marriages on the basis of mutual respect and understanding. Communication, not submission, is vital in sustaining a healthy relationship.

HALIDA: I don’t think it will get the support, especially from level-thinking women, regardless of their sexual inclinations. However, one cannot stop women from joining this club. That’s their prerogative. It might catch up here in Perak since mufti Tan Sri Harussani has given his blessing.

IE: How could social ills besetting the Malay Muslim community be overcome?

SHARIFAH: Social ills besetting Malay Muslims will never be overcome so long as the community keeps harping on petty issues rather than finding solutions for its numerous problems. The belief that men are superior to women results in the lack of respect for women’s rights. This is the primary cause of social ills like rape, incest, domestic violence, prostitution, exploitation of women etc. It’s about men wanting to exert their will over women. Women are not the cause but are, in fact, victims of men’s irresponsible behaviours. Respect begins with acceptance between both genders.

HALIDA: Lust, greed, power and infidelity are the root causes of social ills. Men seek variety even if they are satisfied at home. That’s the reason why prostitution, pornography and human trafficking thrive. Enforcement is weak or non-existence. The authorities are mostly men; therefore, an element of condoning exists. Muslims tend to have many children. This is a major contributing factor, as overseeing a large family can be taxing financially, physically, mentally and emotionally.

Malay women are being taught (indoctrinated) to be submissive and obedient to their husbands. It’s their passport to heaven and a golden umbrella, in the hereafter. How simplistic! Our deeds, good or bad, are not for us to judge but God.

If Muslim men were to go back to the basics of honouring, respecting and loving their womenfolk, social ills among the Malay Muslim community would reduce.


In Appreciation of Women


In conjunction with the centennial celebration of International Women’s Day (IWD) on March 8, Ipoh-based Perak Women for Women Society (PWW) has found an innovative way of promoting women’s issues in the subtlest of form. The society, in collaboration with Sunway College Ipoh (SCI), is organising a carnival with an appropriate theme in mind, “Celebrate, Appreciate and Participate”. The objective is to celebrate while appreciating women’s fate in its broader perspective.

On the global front, the idea of having an international women’s day was first mooted at the turn of the 20th century amid rapid industrialisation that led to protests over working conditions, especially for women.

The planned celebration will be held at Sunway College Ipoh, Tambun on Sunday, March 13 from 9.00 a.m. to 3.00 p.m. The highlight of the day-long carnival will be the inaugural heel-a-thon, an event designed to demonstrate the sufferings of women in the modern world. Participants, regardless of their sex, are required to put on high heels and walk around the college grounds for a distance of about 500 metres.


Dr. Sharifah Halimah

“This is a fine way to showcase women’s plight in an unforgiving world. Walking in high-heels is not something easy,” said Dr. Sharifah Halimah, President of PWW, to Ipoh Echo.

The society will also initiate the “I Care Campaign” at its booth. The campaign, according to Sharifah, is aimed at creating awareness on child abuse. “The malice is becoming endemic in our society. There’s a need to educate the public, as to its actual extent,” she remarked.

Students of Sunway College, Ipoh will participate in the carnival, as part of the college’s educational programme. “Their involvement is timely as it provides an opportunity to partake in a worthy cause aimed at inculcating good values in youths,” said the College’s Head of Academics, Au Chun Chong.

For those keen in participating in the heel-a-thon please call the following numbers for registration – Sunway College Ipoh 05-549 3434/05-545 4398 or PWW 05-546 9715. A registration fee of RM20 will be charged. Proceeds from the event will go towards funding the carnival.


Protecting the Innocents


From the Editor’s desk

By Fathol Zaman Bukhari

Abuses on Upswing

The general perception among Malaysians is that wife-beating and other forms of abuse (physical, sexual, verbal and mental) perpetrated by husbands, are caused by the women themselves. The root cause, many theorise, originates from the wife who provokes the husband into acting in such a manner. This mistaken assumption has affected the way authorities handle complaints on abuses. The President of the Perak Women for Women Society (PWW), Dr. Sharifah Halimah, voiced her concerns over this phenomenon at a press conference held at the society’s premises recently.

“Women are being constantly maltreated and the trend is on an upswing. Unfortunately, our society is not treating the matter seriously enough”, she remarked. “She faulted the women themselves for allowing the unthinkable to happen. They suffer in silence for fear of losing face or being ostracised by their family members. They fear being blamed for not knowing how to entertain their husbands and, foremost, they fear for their children’s and their future.” These feelings of insecurity impacted the way women respond to abuses by their husbands.

Vicious Cycle

The blame game is endemic in the way societies, especially those in Asia, treat their male members. Boys are taught from young that they are superior. “This gets instilled in men and thus explains their aggressive tendencies”, said Sharifah.  “Although some may find this highly disputable, the truth is there for all to see.” The other factor is the man’s background. “If the husband comes from a family with a violent past, it’s highly probable that he would do the same to his wife. It’s a vicious cycle.”

In 2007 alone, there are 3,756 reported cases of wife and child abuses nationwide. “However, this is just the tip of the iceberg. The number is greater considering those that went unreported”, Sharifah revealed.

Slow Response from Authorities

The PWW president felt that authorities entrusted with caring for the welfare of women and children should play a more responsible role in discharging their duties. Frontline officers at some government departments lacked the initiative, knowledge and the drive to push through applications for protection orders submitted by the aggrieved parties. “Victims have to agonise for days and weeks to see their IPO (Interim Protection Order) being processed. And while waiting, they’re being subjected to further harassment by their husbands”, Sharifah intimated.


“This attitude has to change. The well-being of these abused women is a priority.” She alluded to a case where the officer concerned had recommended counselling as a solution when the couple had already been divorced. “It’s this kind of indifference that’s driving victims from seeking help from the authorities concerned.” And one other indignity the women have to constantly endure is the snide remarks thrown at them, especially by female staff. As if this is not enough, they are being shunted from office to office without any compassion shown. They are seldom told of their rights and how to go about getting justice.


Sharifah admitted that awareness among women is still lacking and this is the cause of the attending apathy and neglect. “PWW will conduct campaigns and programmes, in the form of seminars and ceramah (talks), to educate women and schoolgirls, particularly, pertaining to the Domestic Violence Act 1994.”  It is indeed a long and arduous journey one which is fraught with many obstacles.


When Dreams Come True


A cast of 180 young dancers worked hard to fulfil the dreams to build a shelter and service centre for women in Ipoh.

‘When Dreams Come True’ is a charity ballet performance aptly named as it helped raise almost RM35,000 for a service and resource centre for women located at 52, Jalan Sultan Azlan Shah.

The collaboration by Perak Women for Women (PWW) and City Ballet was held at the Perak State Banquet hall and was a glamorous affair with graceful dancers parading in glitzy, colourful costumes.

Little girls as young as six years old strutted their stuff in a featuring of ‘The little Mermaid’ followed by ‘New York, New York’ that depicted a love story set in the infamous ‘city that never sleeps’.

“The little ones practised for six months before the performance but we only had a week to pull off ‘New York New York’ as the older dancers had a tighter schedule”, said City Ballet Principal, Rosalina Ooi.

“The centre for women is a place for women to bond, learn skills, join a support group or volunteer in various projects. We hope our centre will be a place where women can take charge of their lives and move on even after a negative chapter in their lives”, said PWW President, Dr Sharifah Halimah Jaafar.

Datuk Michelle Yeoh was invited to support the event and delivered a short speech that was projected to the audience before the performance started.

“This production communicates a sense of courage, optimism and hope for a better future for women”, said Yeoh in her video message.

A pleasant surprise was also given by Senior Exco of Women Affairs Datuk Hamidah Osman with an additional donation of RM10,000 courtesy of the Perak government.

Guests were encouraged to support PWW’s causes and works with the sale of booklets and donations outside the banquet hall. The non-governmental organization is a run by a group of dynamic women volunteers that depend solely on public funds and donations.

Their work include promoting gender equality, preventing violence against women, promoting respect and rape awareness in primary and secondary schools as well as promoting women’s health awareness. The society also offers support, counselling and shelter for women in crisis.