KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 30 – Violence against women is not an issue that can be quietly accepted and swept under the carpet, says Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin. He said youth, male and female, must educate and equip themselves with awareness on the issue and begin empowering themselves on the subject.
“This issue of violence against women may not be as sensational as corruption, racism or politics, but this is an issue that can cripple an entire family. “It can leave lasting scars on the younger generation who will eventually grow up to be the nation’s leaders and decision makers,” he said at a public forum, “Violence Against Women — The Men’s Perspectives”, at the Universiti Malaya here today.
The forum was organised by Soroptimist International Region of Malaysia (Sirom) in conjunction with the United Nations’ 16 days of activism on the elimination of violence against women, beginning last Friday. Khairy said as a nation seeking developed status, one of the important marks of Malaysia’s development was a society where there was great mutual respect and support between genders.
“As only then, we can focus on maximising our human resources for our nation’s benefit. “We would have failed as a society when young women and girls cannot even feel safe and mix innocently with members of the opposite sex. “We would have failed even more if women are told that it is their fault that these terrible things happen to them because of their behaviour, the way they dress, the way they walk and talk, or that they go out too late (in the night).
“And, we would have really failed if men grow up thinking that they deserve to treat women like an object and that women’s bodies are their right,” he said, adding that the subject of violence against women was not just a “women issue”. Khairy said the violence affected the aggressors and the entire family who often had to witness it, and it also affected the children in the household, who would grow up thinking that it was normal to shoe and slap a woman whenever she “goes out of line”.
According to the Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO)’s annual statistics from 2013, 70% of the perpetrators in the cases come from families with a history of abuse. “This only means that the chain of abuse and violence can go on unbroken for many generations to come. “Based on WAO, 39% of women have been abused by their partners previously, which means one in every three women,” noted Khairy.
He said violence against women knew no class, race or religion. It is not a poor man’s crime, but also involved the educated and wealthy men who have been found to have abused their spouses. “If it is not lifting their hands and striking them, perpetrating psychological abuse is equally, if not more, harmful than physical violence,” he added.