LAST_UPDATETue, 19 Jun 2018 12am

Cases Of Domestic Abuse Continue To Rise: Are Current Campaigns To Combat Violence Against Women Not Working?

Worldwide in the last 5 years, two out of three family-related homicides target women and fewer than 10 percent of those cases will go to the police.

That is the findings reported by United Nation (UN) in October 2015 which was the result of a five-year study. The UN report titled "The World's Women," provided an up-to-date, global picture of the progress of women and girls on critical issues in their lives.

From surveying women in over 102 countries, the shocking statistics show that more than a third of women have been victims of physical or sexual violence at some point in their lives.

That means 1 in 3 women still experience physical or sexual violence, often by those closest to them.Pic: UN WomenPic: UN Women

22 years after the 1993 UN General Assembly declaration on the elimination of violence against women it would appear that we haven't progressed very far in protecting women.

If we switch from a global perspective to the local front, the statistics tell the same story.

Statistics from the Royal Malaysian Police show that in the whole of 2014, there were 3,545 domestic violence cases involving women compared to 3,055 involving women in the whole of 2013.

The statistics from 2015 are even more startling with 3,343 cases of domestic violence reported just between January to August this year so we can safely project that the total cases for this year will easily overshadow the last two years in number of cases, Bernama reports.

Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Rohani Abdul Karim had also highlighted that the government had even amended the Domestic Violence Act 1994 in 2012 by widening the definition to cover psychological abuse and emotional treachery as forms of violence.

The minister drew attention to the 129 One-Stop Crisis Centres (OSCC) in major government hospitals throughout the country which could give the victim comprehensive and centralised treatments in addition to the 15999 Kasih Hotline which operates 24-hours could be used by victims to report cases such as child abuse and abandonment, Bernama reports.

So, basically the number of reported cases of domestic violence is visibly increasing. Are current outreach programmes not working?

Does it also mean people are getting more aggressive or that people are more aware and starting to report cases of abuse?

Reporting Of Domestic Abuse Cases Continue To Rise

Lainey LauLainey LauThe Advocacy Officer (Law & Policy) of Women’s Aid Organization (WAO), Lainey Lau explains the situation the kind of help they are ready to provide.

In her opinion, she feels that “there are, however, a higher number of reports made, and that is not equivalent to an increase of domestic abuse cases. An increase in reporting might be due to a higher awareness of domestic abuse being a crime’.

“We provide social services, such as telephone counselling, individual case management, and shelter and empowerment services to survivors of domestic abuse; we engage with the public through our own campaigns, various organisations/institutions, and social and traditional media; we advocate to eliminate violence against women and discrimination against women with policy and decision makers on every level, and work together with government agencies to improve services towards survivors of domestic abuse” she told Malaysian Digest.

She explained that the reporting of domestic abuse cases continue to rise and it may be due to an increase of awareness that domestic abuse is a crime or that the Malaysian society is becoming intolerant of living with abuse.

“While it is important to continue to improvise ourselves and engage with more updated means of outreach, the so-called outdated methods continue to be useful to engage a significant population of society who are still acquainted with these forms of methods” she added.

“From our experience, the forms of abuse are still generally the same, but it has become easier for the perpetrators to stalk the survivors through technology.

Another trend that we have seen over the past few years, as compared to the past, is that more and more women who come to us are more highly educated and have good jobs. Even though they are less financially dependent on their partners, as compared to the trend in the past, financial abuse is still prevalent” she expressed based on her experience in WOA.

She said that there are more women from lower (or no) income groups who seek them for help, which probably means that women of higher income groups are more independent and do not need the help of NGOs to solve the issues they face.

Nevertheless, as mentioned above, there is an increasing trend of women who are working professionals who go to them for help, which shows that domestic abuse is not an issue affecting only families of lower socio-economic status.

Domestic abuse is not an issue affecting only certain races or economic groups, but it is a matter of power imbalance between family members. It cuts across categories such as race and socio-economic groups.

“The issue is a more insidious and deeper one, which is not that easy to address, but we are working to do so. The cause of domestic abuse is a deeply entrenched belief in our society that violence is an acceptable way of solving conflict, and that patriarchal norms are accepted, such as women being subservient to men” she said.

Being an association for women, they do cater a number of help for women to overcome from domestic abuse. What about men who suffers the same problem.

Lainey also informed that, “while there are more cases of men reporting themselves as victims of domestic abuse, the overwhelming majority of abusers (even of these men) are still men.

It is important to note that domestic abuse is not only between intimate partners/spouses, but also of other family members. Again, an increase in reporting of male victims is not the same as an increase in cases. Perhaps men in our society these days are less embarrassed to report abuses, and more aware of their rights.

Real Life Cases Abuse Show How Difficult It Is For Victims To Escape Domestic Violence

The UN report "The World's Women" had detailed how they examined main indicators in 70 countries and found that fewer than 40 percent of victims will officially report the violence but they will talk to friends or family, instead of police or social services.

From the following real life cases related to Malaysian Digest by victims who chose to remain anonymous, the complex intricate web that domestic violence weaves makes it nearly impossible for victims to escape from the vicious cycle.

Domestic violence and abuse can happen to anyone, regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, income, or other factors. Even men can be victims of domestic violence.

First lets hear the story of a man, Chris, who is suffering psychological and emotional abuse from his spouse yet finds himself unable to escape the domestic violence he endures daily.

I fell in love with this woman, Sabby who made me feel that she is the love of my life back then. Eventually things worked out well and we ended up getting married in a grand way.

Few months passed, then her true colors popped out. As my ex-girlfriend was a Filipino, Sabby started to be very uncomfortable whenever a Filipino woman passes by us, especially in restaurants which have Filipino waitresses. She will make me look down (bow down the head) till the waitress leaves the table.

At first, I felt she was being protective and jealous, which seemed cute at that time. Only later I found out it to be nightmare.

The worst thing I went through was when she burnt all my clothes. We went for dinner on a fine day and her friend who organized the party upon her child’s first year birthday complimented me saying I looked good in that suit. The moment we came back, she took all my clothes and literally burnt it.

I have been living with Sabby for the past 16 years now, but the only reason why I am with her is that I still love her and my daughters.

I can’t afford leave my kids as they do need me and she might even harm them in a way to project her anger she has towards me.

That was the story of Chris who is going through mental torture yet have not decided to leave as he is concerned about his kids.

In another heartbreaking account, this time from Ana, an educated, independent and professional woman, who endured years of fractured and broken bones before she was able to escape.

Unlike Chris, Ana has got a divorce from her husband as she has given up on him.

Ana, who is a lawyer, went through domestic violence for 13 years before she got a divorce from her husband.

She told Malaysian Digest that she had an instinct that something was wrong a day before her marriage but chose to ignore the feeling as her husband actually created sympathy by saying he loves her very much and he would commit suicide if she doesn’t marry him.

I had no choice than to marry him. Few years of my marriage I didn’t tell anyone about the abuse that I went through. Every time I get my hands and legs fractured, I would say I fell down.

He even stopped me from going to my own firm. He wanted me to be a slave at home. He doesn’t give me money, he never lets me visit my family.

Nobody in my family went through a broken marriage before so that was a major drawback for me to take the next step.

I kept silent because of my sons. They do need me. Every time I decide to leave him, he threatens me that he will harm my sons.

There was once when I left him and came to my parents’ place. He brought my baby who was not even a year old in front of my parents house and demanded that I follow him back. He stood in the pouring rain with my baby and was not even bothered about him being drenched.

As a mother, I had to leave my ego and pain just to bring my son to shelter as he was soaking wet in the rain.

Sometimes I will go to the police station to make a report, but I will withdraw it as my baby will be exposed to the threat of being punished for what those actions.

It all went on till one day I decided that I have had enough with that man and my sons were big enough to understand what I’m going through.

Now, I’m out of the hell that I was caught in. I’ve brought up my firm again. I’ve got my own house, car and I’m living my life as I want.

Despite my sons are with him now, I am very sure that end of the day they will know the true love of their mother.

That was the story of the two victims of domestic violence. Apparently, the only thing that stopped both victims from taking any action was their kids.

It may be easy for couples to separate but not parents. That definitely explains that prevention is better than cure.

Don’t wait too long to take action. It may even cost your life. Think wisely and speak up. You deserve a better life.

The Importance Of Continuing To Create Awareness About Domestic Violence

Domestic violence and abuse can happen to anyone, regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, income, or other factors. Even men can be victims of domestic violence.

No victim is to blame for any occurrence of domestic abuse or violence while there is no direct cause or explanation why domestic violence happens, it is caused by the abuser or perpetrator.

As highlighted by the victims' accounts above, it is important to continue sharing and publicizing the message. While many NGOs recognize that domestic abuse affects men as well, but the fact remains that the overwhelming majority of victims worldwide are women.

Increasing awareness and education about domestic violence goes a long way towards changing perceptions.

"The World's Women" UN report found that attitudes toward violence were starting to change in nearly all countries where information on the problem was available.

The level of acceptance of "wife-beating" decreases over time as public awareness rises, the report said. At least 119 countries have passed laws on domestic violence, 125 have laws addressing sexual harassment and 52 have laws on marital rape.

In an effort to continue to highlight the importance of continued social action against domestic violence, UN Women, an organization under the United Nations will kick of the campaign '16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence Campaign' from this Wednesday, 25 November which will see many activities being held across the globe until 10 December.Pic: UN WomenPic: UN Women

This Wednesday, 25 November is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and UN Women is marking the event as well as the ensuing 16 days with programmes that aim to create greater understanding as well as explore new ways for victims to reach out, harnessing technology and new media.

The campaign comes to a finale on 10 December, which is Human Rights Day highlighting that the problem of domestic abuse is ultimately a human rights issue, cutting across race, religion and cultures.

This year, the United Nations Secretary-General’s Campaign UNiTE to End Violence against Women invites you to “Orange the world: End violence against women and girls.” Join the UNiTE campaign and organize “Orange Events” between 25 November and 10 December 2015.

Share your photos, messages and videos showing how you orange your world at facebook.com/SayNO.UNiTE and twitter.com/SayNO_UNiTE using #orangetheworld.

-Malaysian Digest