By Alysha Khairul Razman
As a child witness of domestic violence in my family, I know first hand how important it is to talk about this issue: to talk about how thousands of women experience this psychological horror every year, to talk about how shattered and alone one can be, to talk about how no one is there to pick up the pieces of justice.
Domestic violence is still very much considered a private, family matter. The stigma surrounding domestic violence results in many individuals taking a passive approach to the issue, as they believe it is ‘not their problem’. Malaysians held this common belief; even authoritative figures used to have this attitude towards handling domestic situations.
But, thank god, times have changed.
Three years ago, the walls of our house could only hear the constant bickering between my parents. Overtime, it turned into yelling, slamming doors, and the final straw–my father putting his hands on my mother. Then came the hospital visits, and everytime I sat on that same couch in the same hospital room, I had to watch my father lie to the doctor when asked “what happened?” I never dared to speak up, because the fear of ending up on a hospital bed right where my mother was kept me silent.
Not only did I stay silent, everyone else around me did. My aunts, my uncles, even my cousins knew what happened behind closed doors.
My mother finally decided to make a noise, and she called the police during a fight, after my father pushed her, sending her crashing into a cupboard in our living room. Two officers stood outside by our front door, and my mother begged for their help. “He pushed me! He pushed me!” she cried.
The officers did nothing but looked at each other.
Before driving off, the police officers told my mother that they ‘can’t be involved’ and ‘to sort this out with your husband first’. They did not only leave, but they left my mother, with a man who can just ball up his fist to send her into an apologetic frenzy.
That was three years ago, but a lot changed in these three years.
In 2017, new amendments, in favor of the victim(s) and their safety, such as Act A1414, was added to the Domestic Violence Act (DVA). The Assistant Director in the CCID of Royal Malaysia Police, Tuan Ramly, even vocalized that, “the new amendments stated in the law serve to favor and protect victims of domestic violence in Malaysia.”
If only these new amendments were verified 24 years ago, with the first establishment of the DVA (1994), Malaysia could have saved thousands of women, children, and men.
According to the Women’s Center of Change of Penang, 5,014 domestic violence cases were reported, with 75% female victims and 25% male victims (2015). In 13,944 reports lodged, only 33% are charged cases and 14% are convicted cases (2013-2015). These victims might have reached out, like my mother, but were blatantly ignored.
They are not only left in the same abusive relationship, but with the mentality that if the police, served to protect the citizens of Malaysia, won’t help, no one will.
As a person subjected to live behind those closed doors for their entire childhood, and taught to keep those doors locked, I didn’t know my rights, and how I could use them to help my mother. Now, Malaysia’s government is helping victims to fight for their rights, their power, and their justice.
Malaysia has made a change, and it is here to stay.
- DOMESTIC VIOLENCE ACT 1994. Digital image. Wccpenang.org. Women’s Centre for Change, Penang, 1 Mar. 2012. Web. 1 Mar. 2018.
- Wccpenang.org. Women’s Centre for Change, Penang, 2017. Web. 01 Mar. 2018.