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Malaysian Public Attitudes and Perceptions towards Violence Against Women (VAW)
A study conducted by Women’s Aid Organisation, funded by Global Fund for Women and supported by Yayasan Sime Darby

This study on Malaysian Public Attitudes and Perceptions towards Violence Against Women (VAW) is the first large-scale research project undertaken by Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO) since 1995. It is also the first nationally-representative study on public attitudes towards Violence Against Women (VAW) in Malaysia, with a sample size of 1000 respondents.

In order to assess the prevalence of violence-endorsing attitudes within Malaysian society, this study explores Malaysians’ understanding of and attitudes towards gender equality and VAW, specifically domestic violence, rape, sexual harassment, stalking, child marriage. Violence-endorsing attitudes are defined as attitudes that justify, excuse, minimise VAW, or blame survivors for the violence perpetrated against them.

The project is partly modelled after Australia’s National Community Attitudes Towards Violence Against Women (NCAS) survey, which is periodically conducted every 4 years to measure the progression and regression of public attitudes towards VAW. WAO’s version of the survey adapts three scales from the Australian report, measuring community attitudes towards violence against women, perceptions of gender equality, and understanding of forms of violence. These are complemented by a set of self-developed questions on issues such as child marriage, rape, and perceptions towards sources of support. A total of 16 qualitative in-depth interviews was also conducted to help shed light on how public attitudes and perceptions affected their help-seeking journeys.

The initial findings of this study identifies specific dimensions of violence-endorsing attitudes that are likely to be prevalent within Malaysian society. It also demonstrates a serious need for prevention interventions and programming for VAW in Malaysia to move beyond information-sharing and to take a step further to actively challenge underlying attitudes that help to sustain VAW within Malaysian society.

Specifically, this study provides a baseline measure and a template for how Malaysia can adopt such a survey to monitor attitudinal progression (increasing opposition to VAW and gender inequality) or regression over time, to identify the most pressing attitudes that underlie violence, and use this information to design prevention campaigns to effectively address these and build a safer Malaysia for all.

The initial findings and recommendations report and the research briefs (English and Bahasa Malaysia) can be read and downloaded below. Throughout 2022, WAO will be releasing the full report and more in-depth discussion papers surrounding key issues raised by the data, and which will be accessible on this website page. Upcoming advocacy events centred around this study will also be updated here, as well as on WAO’s social media pages.

We sampled 1,000 respondents with the help of Ipsos, a market research firm with a panel of 1.6 million Malaysians.

Our sample is:

  • Nationally representative population in terms of gender, age group, ethnicity, income group, and regional distribution following the Department of Statistics population breakdown.
  • Importantly, the size of our sample and its representativeness means that the results can be extrapolated, although with caution and the necessary steps in – these are somewhat a reflection of Malaysian society as a whole.


  • Our survey was conducted online, meaning it is skewed towards those who are digitally literate.
  • Because it was conducted online, our survey also skews urban, though we attempted to recruit as many rural respondents as possible.


This research was conducted by the WAO Research and Advocacy team. For any queries, questions, or comments, reach out to

Global Fund for Women is one of the world’s leading foundations for gender equality, standing up for the human rights of women and girls. They have generously funded this research and key outputs, notably,the Initial Findings report and Research Brief. To read more about their work, visit their website

This survey was conducted with the help of Ipsos, a market research company with a panel of 1.6 million Malaysians. Working with Ipsos enabled the survey sample to be nationally representative, following the population strata released by the Department of Statistics. Find out more about Ipsos by visiting their website.

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