09/24/2021, 16.35
MALAYSIA
Send to a friend

COVID-19 sparks a pandemic of domestic violence

by Steve Suwannarat

As complaints rise, crisis centres are overwhelmed. Because anti-COVID-19 measures discourage overnight stay at shelters, victims are often forced to return to abusive homes.

Kuala Lumpur (AsiaNews) – Among the countries of Southeast Asia, Malaysia is experiencing a particularly serious "pandemic of domestic violence", compounded and aggravated by COVID-19.

Data from last year show a 57 per cent increase in reported cases; but the worsening pandemic situation and its economic consequences have made matters worse.

Hospital crisis centres handling victims of sexual and family violence are overwhelmed; so people at risk are not followed, cases are not reported, and culprits are not punished.

Many have called for action to counter this trend; one of them is Charlene Murray, director of Women's Aid Organisation, a Malaysian NGO that provides shelter, counselling and material support to abused women and children.

The problem is not only inadequate support, but also the lack of alternatives to going back to abusive situations.

“Unless someone comes in with injuries, most hospitals only provide basic treatment for OSCC[*] patients,” Murray explained. Hence, they “do not encourage them to stay overnight due to the risk of exposure to COVID-19,” and this puts women to additional risks upon returning home.

As unemployment and poverty get worse, and people are limited in what they can do or where they can go, tensions rise, limiting women’s roles, income and opportunities.

Before the pandemic, Malaysian women already spent 64 per cent more time on domestic chores than men, on average three times more than their partners. Now the situation has further deteriorated.

For their part, law enforcement agencies have rejected accusations that they are not doing enough against domestic violence during the lockdown because of understaffing as they devote more human resources to pandemic containment measures.

However, several districts have admitted that they only have one dedicated official assigned to such cases.


[*] One-stop crisis centres.

Send to a friend
Printable version
CLOSE X
See also
Covid sees 315% hike in domestic abuse of women
17/11/2021 09:54
Pandemic sparks rise in gender-based violence
11/12/2020 15:14
Walls are easily built, but sooner or later they fall, Pope says
13/05/2009
National Commission for Women asks for 'immediate action' in the nun rape case in Kerala
07/02/2019 17:28
More than 500 people light ‘candles of hope’ for religious freedom
21/06/2007