Don’t let victims of domestic violence suffer in silence

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A society that treats women as second class has lower expectation for women’s rights and their well-being. This must change, says Steven Sim.

protest-against-domestic-violence-28-June-2013

On 14 August, someone posted two videos of women being physically abused on two separate occasions. Later, the press carried the news of both incidents. Apparently, the women had previously lodged police reports against their spouses who abused them. Nothing was done so far – until now, when their videos were uploaded onto Facebook.

It saddens me to see such incidents taking place in our society. Victims, often women, not only have to suffer physical pain but also the emotional and mental anguish of being victimised by someone who was supposed to love and care for them. And at times, our society is guilty of inaction when we tolerate domestic violence on the pretext that it being a “private family matter”.

Violence is never a private matter. Violence should not be tolerated. Violence should be condemned. Domestic violence is a criminal act, punishable by the law of our country, specifically the Domestic Violence Act 1994, which is to be read alongside the Penal Code.

While we are angered by corruption, abuse of power, religious bigotry and other “big issues” plaguing our country, we should deal with domestic violence seriously. Cases are on the rise, and almost 10,000 cases were reported in the last three years. In many of the cases I handled, the violence is a recurring pattern in the relationship. Victims are often embarrassed to seek help because they do not want to shame the family’s good name. The wives are expected to suffer in silence and even protect the perpetrators. This must change.

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We must re-evaluate our values and perspective especially on the issue of gender equality. A society that treats women as second class has lower expectation for women’s rights and well-being. This must change.

On a larger scale, the government must ensure the police and the justice system are able to deal with the sensitivity required in dealing with crime against women, including domestic violence. I have included some suggestions in a media statement.

I hope we will all work together to stop violence, starting from our homes and then our community and the world. Please help spread the word.

“I am a man against domestic violence!”

Steven Sim is the Member of Parliament for Bukit Mertajam.

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