Only one out of 10 domestic violence victims have the courage to seek help, said a leading Sarawak lawyer.
By Mustapha Ibrahim
KUCHING: PKR wants “more help, shelter and protection” for victims of domestic abuse.
Its Wanita national vice-president Voon Shiak Ni, while welcoming amendments to Domestic Violence Act and related policies, said it was vital that such compassion is extended to victims.
The Ministry of Women Family and Community Development is amending the Domestic Violence Act which categorized emotional abuse as a form or violence and cruelty.
The amendment, Voon said, was a step forward in putting together legal protection for victims under the Domestic Violence Act.
“There is legal protection accorded under Section 375A which states that any husband causing fear of death to or hurt his wife to have sexual intercourse shall be liable to five years’ jail.
“(But alongside these amendments), we encourage the Ministry to see to efforts in offering more help, shelter and protection to victims who take the courageous step to come forward.
“We also call on the police to treat cases of domestic violence with compassion and to be more responsive,” said Voon, who is a prominent lawyer here.
She said that some of her clients were taken aback by police officers who were not willing to listen or take complaints if visible abuse marks are not present.
Responding to Minister Rohani Abdul Karim’s statement on the rise in domestic violence, Voon said only one in 10 sexual abuse victims came forward to request for help.
“Others choose to remain silent about their ordeals due to their fear, shame and humiliation,” she said.
On Saturday, Rohani revealed that cases of domestic violence saw a marked increase in the first quarter of 2013 with 1,353 cases reported compared to around 800 during the first three months of last year.
According to Rohani, the cases comprised 998 cases of violence against women, and 355 cases against men up until April this year, of which 60 cases were reported in Sarawak.
Rohani said that since 2008, the number of reported domestic violence cases each year has never dropped below 3,000 a year.
Appealing for support from all related parties in working towards checking and lessening domestic violence threats, Voon also said the government should carry out campaigns on the issue bearing in mind the rising number of cases reported annually.
Voon said the issue of domestic violence and sexual abuses should no longer be considered a private matter as the growing numbers indicate that it could become a national problem if not properly managed.
“More nationwide awareness campaigns are encouraged to increase public awareness of domestic violence and its repercussions on the development of the family unit and society.
“The campaigns should engage women, men and young people to foster greater understanding and awareness of the issue,” said Voon.