Awam: Address uneven application of domestic abuse laws

AWAMPETALING JAYA: Training and awareness are key to ensuring that reports of domestic abuse do not go unattended, a women’s group said today.

All Women’s Action Society (Awam) program manager Lee Wei San said while marital rape was not considered a crime in Malaysia, there were provisions under the Penal Code which provided “some form” of protection for women inside of a marriage.

She told FMT the implementation of the Domestic Violence Act 1994 was uneven, and this needed to be addressed.

“How is it possible that if you beat or rape someone on the street, it’s a crime. But once you get married, you lose the protection of the law? The law needs to be amended to ensure that marital rape is a crime.

“At Awam, we have conducted some training programmes and worked with the police in some stations and with the D11 (Bukit Aman’s Sexual, Women and Child Investigation Division). But what is needed is resources from the government to ensure that there is nationwide training on a regular basis, to gender sensitise the police, especially those at the frontline.”

Lee was commenting on a recent report in The Star, about a housewife in Sibu lodging a police report following abuse by her sex-crazed husband, who beat her and even allegedly tried to strangle her when she refused to comply with his demands. The police had reportedly called up the man and told him to “sort out” the matter and his family’s future.

According to Lee, the way the police respond to domestic violence differs from station to station, and those in urban areas appear to be more aware of the need for the state to protect women, even from troubles occurring inside her marriage.

“Unfortunately, there are some who still tell a woman to go home and work on her marriage, or a husband to deal with it as a private matter .

“It’s a matter of applying the law. In some cases, the police move very quickly and this ensures that women are able to access protection.

“Sometimes the problem is with the front desk who are the front liners, but not all of them are trained. This needs to be changed.”