Sexual and Gender-based violence

Proposer:

Karen Lai

Affiliations:

Women's Centre for Change, Penang

Policy Code:

2c Women

Problem Statement / Issue:

Domestic and sexual violence against women and children remains a grave concern in Malaysia. The situation is exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic and movement restrictions. The number of cases reported is merely the tip of the iceberg, due to underreporting. Additionally, government data is scant and not readily accessible to the public, obscuring the true extent of the problem.

Victims of domestic and sexual violence face various barriers accessing justice. Despite existing legislation which protects them, they are often unaware of their rights and the procedures involved. Even where the crimes are reported, they are poorly handled by government agencies involved who tend to work in silos, and who lack sensitivity when handling victims. Poor attitudes and victim blaming are not uncommon.

Value(s) and Belief(s):

Freedom from violence is a fundamental human right for women and children. The Malaysian government has a duty under CEDAW, CRC, and other international human rights instruments to uphold these rights. Interventions must include a rights-based (as opposed to welfarist) approach and meaningful engagement with stakeholders including civil society.

Proposal of Solution and Call to Action:

1. Government agencies should have greater consultation and dialogues with women and children’s NGOs working on sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) to arrive at more holistic interventions to address SGBV.

2. The government should recognise the role of NGOs who are providing critical services on the ground for women and children by allocating annual grants for them.

3. The government should collaborate with women’s NGOs to train government agencies to be more sensitive and professional when handling victims of SGBV.

4. The government should collaborate with women’s NGOs to raise awareness so that members of the public are able to play a more supportive role in addressing SGBV issues.

5. Government agencies should work in an integrated manner to ensure the seamless provision of support for victims to access their rights.

6. The government should develop a comprehensive data collection system on SGBV which includes NGO data, and it should be made publicly accessible so that better interventions and strategies can be formulated.

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