Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO) refers to the news report “Police to set up one-stop centres for rape victims” (New Straits Times, 24 Mary 2002).
WAO commends the police’s efforts and commitment in protecting the welfare of violence and sexual assault victims, and welcomes the idea of a victim-friendly investigation system in the police force. It must however be stressed that the setting up of the centre is only the first step. What is more important is that the implimentation of all aspects within the centre is effective and efficient, and that adequate resources are provided for its successful execution.
This is especially with regards to the training of police personnel of the centre, and we are pleased to note that there are plans to train more police officers nationwide to be skilled and gender-sensitised in the issue of violence and sexual assault, hopefully incorporating also issues of domestic violence and foreign domestic worker abuse. Of equal, if not more, importance is the need of trained professional counsellors to be at the centres to be able to provide the victims with immediate emotional and psychological support. It would also be very helpful if the staff at the centre are able to converse in all four major languages of Malaysia – Malay, English, Mandarin and Tamil – to be able to communicate effectively with the victims who may come from all race and socio-economic backgrounds.
WAO wholly supports the police and government’s intention to amend the Evidence Act to enable video-recorded statements as evidence without needing the child to be present in court, as well as to take away the need for corroborated evidence. WAO, as part of the Anti-Rape Task Force, has also been lobbying for these amendments for several years. It is a good move because it will minimise the child victim’s contact with the alleged perpetrator, therefore removing the threat of intimidation that the alleged perpetrator may pose. In addition, the clarity and details of the statement will be recorded as cases may take years before being heard in court, by which time, the victim-survivor would have grown-up and may have forgotten certain details of the event. It would also help in the victim-survivors healing process by not requiring her to relive the ordeal over and over again.
Women’s Aid Organisation – 20 Years of Service to Women and Children