Address by WAO Executive Director
Launch of WAO’s 16 Days Activism Against Gender Violence Campaign
25 November – 10 December
I stand here today not only as a representative of WAO but also as a woman. As a daughter, sister, girlfriend, wife and mother, I would like to urge you NOT TO TURN YOUR BACK ON VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN.
Like your daughters, sisters, wives, girlfriends, mothers, aunts, and grandmothers, I too do not want to continue to live with the fear, that I may be sexually harassed, raped or beaten simply because I am woman.
Violence Against Women is a chosen action against a women or girl child simply because of her gender, simply because she is female. It is random violence but a deliberate act, a deliberate crime against women. In year 2000 alone, there were 3,000 reported cases of rape, incest and domestic violence.
WAO would also like to take a moment to remember Ang May Hong, Audrey Melissa, Nor Suzaily Mukhtar and Nurul Hanis who were all raped and then brutally killed by their rapists. Our sympathy and prayers go to their families and loved ones. Our hope and aspirations must go towards preventing violence against children and women, another child, girl or woman must not perish because we did not do enough.
Today, on International Day Against Violence Against Women, WAO would like to make one urgent appeal. We want every Malaysian to join us to advocate for a 24 hours hotline that could became a lifeline for victims of abuse We urge the government to pour resources and funds to improving the existing Teledera hotline. We believe that the government is committed to eliminating violence against children and women but what we need is sustained strategies, concrete programs and support systems so that it gets to the grassroots level.
The existing Teledera service operates during office hours by the Welfare Department, who will then direct the complaint to the welfare officer from whichever district or state the complaint comes from. After office hours the calls are directed to Bulan Sabit Merah where if it is an emergency, the caller is advised to go to the police, and if it can wait , the caller are told to call during office hours so that Welfare will be responsible.
We do not want to go into the obvious weaknesses in the present system but to elaborate what kind of hotline service we should put into place.
The Teledera service must be an emergency hotline to deal with child abuse, domestic violence, foreign domestic worker abuse and rape. The hotline must be:
A 24 hours hotline with more than one telephone line, a caller must never get an engaged tone.
Have links to welfare, police and the hospital for immediate response.
Have full- time staff who are multi lingual and trained in emergency and a gender sensitive response.
WAO is committed to lobby for this urgent service and we hope that you will join us in our advocacy.
Lastly, I must thank a few people.
First, Levi Straus for not only funding this public education campaign but for giving us funds for our work in rendering service’s for battered women and their children through our Refuge and telephone counselling services. Thanks also to Levi Strauss Staff for being out there distributing brochures.
Our thanks goes to Putra LRT for opening up their stations to our posters, and volunteers who will be interacting with PUTRA LRT commuters when distributing brochures on Violence Against Women. Reaching out to the public and educating ourselves on this issue is imperative if we are focused in wiping out violence against women.
Finally, our thanks to Marina, who has never let WAO down, for giving up her Sunday yet again, for willing to assist us not only because she is a member of WAO but because she is committed to doing her part to prevent Violence Against Women.