Spend more to prevent domestic violence, say women’s groups

PETALING JAYA: Women’s rights organisations hope the federal government will allocate more funds in next year’s Budget for the prevention of domestic violence against women

Sumitra Visvanathan of the Women’s Aid Organisation.

Sumitra Visvanathan, executive director of the Women’s Aid Organisation, said the Social Welfare Department should receive more funds to enable better support for survivors of domestic violence.

“Funds are needed to hire more social welfare officers, improve training, expand counselling services, and so on,” she told FMT. “More funds should be given for one-stop crisis centres in public hospitals, because they are crucial in providing medical services to victims of abuse.

Nellie Tan, chief executive officer of the Women’s Institute of Management, said the government should pay more attention to educating women about their rights, as wives are often the first targets of husbands with violent tendencies and children are often the witnesses to such beatings.

Nellie Tan of the Women’s Institute of Management.

“Domestic violence is a very sensitive issue. Most of the women (suffering from domestic violence) are lowly educated – they think it is a right for their husbands to beat them up,” said Tan.

“There should also be programmes for men. “A lot of them take domestic violence as taboo and don’t want to talk about it. You have to face it and win over those who indulges in domestic violence.”

According to a United Nations report, “the cost of violence against women amounts to 2% of global domestic product” from a loss in productivity, and hefty medical costs.

Increase childcare facilities in offices and factories

Tan also recommended that child-minding nurseries or day care centres should be made mandatory in office buildings and factories. “Many qualified and experienced women of child-bearing age elect to stay at home when they have children,” Tan told FMT. She cited AirAsia as one of the few companies which provides childcare facilities for its staff.

Sumitra supported the idea, calling for RM10 million to be allocated for childcare facilities in government buildings.

“The government should also introduce at least seven days of paternity leave in the private sector, similar to the current policy in the public sector,” she added.