Case Studies by Rose Virgine Good Shepherd (Ipoh), Pusat Kebajikan Good Shepherd

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Case Studies (14 - 15 by Rose Virgine Good Shepherd (Ipoh), Pusat Kebajikan Good Shepherd

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Case 14 – Refugees and asylum seekers more vulnerable to domestic violence

In 2016, Catherine, who was an asylum-seeker in Malaysia, came to Good Shepherd for shelter after she had been abused by her husband. After her time at Good Shepherd, Catherine was able to find a job and support herself and her child. However, due to her community’s traditional beliefs that women must be loyal to their husbands, the community informed Catherine’s husband of her whereabouts. 

Catherine’s husband managed to locate her and forced himself on her, and then took control of the room that she was staying in.  He took their child hostage and made Catherine go out to work so that he could live on her earnings.  Eventually she was forced to leave him as the abuse got worse, but she could not take her child with her.  Due to her past experiences of harassment by enforcement officers, Catherine had a deep mistrust of the system and refused to lodged a police report against her husband.

Remarks:

·        Many women who are refugees or asylum-seekers are seeking protection from strife in their home countries.

·        As in Catherine’s case, many of these women endure domestic violence for a long time before they make the decision to leave, as they are alone in Malaysia and do not have the benefit of protection or support from their families. These women’s situations are further exacerbated by financial dependence on their abusers, resulting from a lack of skills to obtain jobs or lack of legal status to work.

·   The right to work is not recognised for refugees, forcing them into the informal workforce and making them more vulnerable to abuses by employers, and additionally for women refugees, to abuses by their husbands or partners. 

Case 15 – Domestic violence committed by sibling

Cindy, a fourteen year-old girl, was forced by her sister to work in her sister's house.  Her sister had married a Malaysian man and had a foreign spouse visa. Cindy was orphaned at a young age and was brought into Malaysia by her sister.  When Cindy's passport expired, her sister did not renew the passport, thus resulting in Cindy being undocumented.  Cindy was forced to work in the house and was abused physically and verbally by her sister.

Cindy eventually managed to run away and sought help from the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), who referred her to Good Shepherd.  Cindy refused to make a police report and is currently undergoing counselling. She is afraid of her sister and her sister's spouse and does not want to speak out against them. In the meantime, Good Shepherd is working with UNHCR to register Cindy as a refugee and to find a long-term solution for her.

Remarks:

o   As Cindy’s case illustrates, even an individual who enters Malaysia with documentation may later become undocumented, and thus vulnerable to several forms of abuse.

o   In this case, Cindy was physically and verbally abused by her sister, which would bring Cindy under the protections of the DVA if she chose to take action against her sister, since the DVA covers abuse by family members. 

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