News

WAO & The Body Shop Law Reform and Public Education Campaign

Posted on 20 September 2002
 

WAO & The Body Shop - Stop Violence Against Women

When We Don't Unite, Our Worlds Fall Apart

Campaign on Reforms of The Domestic Violence Act

Women's Aid Organisation (WAO) and The Body Shop (TBS) are working together again for the 3rd time this year on the Stop Violence Against Women law reform / public education campaign.

Previous Campaigns
Last year the WAO&TBS public education campaign also called for law reform for Rape, Sexual Harassment, Foreign Domestic Worker Abuse, Domestic Violence and General reforms (setting up of rape, DV and migrant women shelters and gender sensitisation training for police, welfare and court officials).

During the 3 week campaign 6,660 postcards were signed and handed over to the Ministry of Women and Family Development for action.

Stop Violence Against WomenThis year.....
As the call for reforms last year was very broad what we have done this year is to focus on Domestic Violence Act calling for very specific law and policy reforms to:

  • Broaden the definition of domestic violence in the Domestic Violence Act to include psychological, mental and emotional abuse.
  • Include domestic violence as specific crime in the penal code and have corresponding criminal procedures.
  • Prioritize victim safety. Standardize and accelerate protection orders so that women are ensured protection within 24 hours.
  • Spell out specific prohibitive acts of violence in the Interim Protection Orders.
    Increase the budget allocation, human resources and conduct gender sensitivity training for the Police, Welfare and Courts.

 

The Story of Nisha*
Nisha is a 34 year old woman, married for 16 years with three children. As her tailoring business became more successful, her husband started hitting her with his hands and belt and torturing her mentally one and a half years ago. He monitored her every activity and restricted her movement. He even prevented her from going out and from making any telephone calls. Her eldest daughter was also abused physically as she was seen by the father as a figure of support to her mother.

The situation became unbearable and Nisha sought shelter at WAO. When she went to lodge a police report, her husband was present at the police station. Although he continued to harass her there, the desk officers made no attempt to stop him. In addition, during her interview with the Investigating Officer, her complaint was not taken seriously at all as there was no visible injury.

Her next step was to see a welfare officer. Although the welfare officer was sympathetic, she persisted in asking Nisha questions as to why her husband beat her, thus implying that Nisha was somehow at fault for the abuse. She added remarks like "biasalah" when Nisha described the abuse and requested an Interim Protection Order (IPO) from the courts which will instruct her husband to stop committing domestic violence on her.

At the Magistrate court the welfare officer did not turn up and sent another welfare officer who was not familiar with her case. After some delay, an IPO was issued.

Nisha moved to another town to rebuild her life, but her husband went looking for her. He told the police there that she was a prostitute and was probably pushing drugs. Based on his unfounded allegations, four policemen entered her house and went through her belongings. The police, upon not finding any evidence, left the place. Meanwhile, her husband managed to steal all her important documents.

Nisha made a police report in that town stating that she has an IPO, but the police, now more attentive, seem not know what an IPO was and said that they are unable to do anything as the IPO was issued in another district. Nisha returned to the first police station to lodge a report on her husband violating the IPO and stealing her documents. This time, she was told that he committed these acts in another town which was outside their jurisdiction, and there was nothing they could do.

Nisha moved to another town again. Once more, her husband managed to track her down and threatened to kill her if she did not return. She lodged another police report at this town. Yet again, the front desk officer insisted that the IPO was not valid there. When Nisha informed the police officers that the IPO was valid throughout the country, she was told that it was not a violation, as the IPO was only valid against physical injury and Nisha's husband only threatened to harm her.

As a last recourse, Nisha left for another country. It was the only way where she felt she could be safe.

*WAO case documentation. Nisha is not her real name. WAO would also like to state that there has been a number of police and welfare officers who have been helpful, but there are still areas for improvement for all parties concerned.

Help us in providing better protection for survivors of domestic violence.
Walk into your nearest Bodyshop and sign the petition!

 

And not only that.....
WAO &TBS are also encouraging for women to register to vote and exercise their right to vote.

Make sure that women’s rights are guaranteed, let your concerns / voice be heard - Register to vote!

As a first step to change, women must ensure their right to vote for Members of Parliament and State Assembly Representatives who will put women's agenda on top of the list. Women must make sure they vote for representatives who:

  • Believe that women are equal to men
  • Lobby for women's rights and
  • Will bring change to law and policy that eliminates discrimination against women

How do I register to vote?

It is so easy to register to vote. You can now do it throughout the year at any post office.

Who can register?

  • Malaysian citizen
  • 21 years old
  • Residing in a constituency

How to register?

  • Go to any Post Office or the State Electoral Office
  • Bring your IC and fill form A which has 4 sections
  • As proof of your registration, tear off the attachment which is in Section IV of Form A.

Spread the word around. Get your friends and family members to exercise their right as Malaysian citizens.

1) Go to The Body Shop outlets and sign the card to urge the various ministries to reform laws and policies to the Domestic Violence Act and
2) Go to the Post Office to register to vote.

It will only take you 20 minutes to exercise your right to vote and bring real changes to women’s lives.



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