On Saturday 3 December 2011, WAO’s Letter to the Editor was published in The Star.
Don’t blame women for violence
WOMEN’s Aid Organisation (WAO) is disappointed by the comments reportedly made by the Deputy Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Heng Seai Kie in the report “Nosy in-laws may turn outlaws when Act is amended” (The Star, Nov 29).
In speaking about the amended Domestic Violence Act (DVA), which is due to be tabled in the Dewan Negara on Dec 9, the deputy minister reportedly said that “There have been many cases where mothers-in-law, grandmothers and stepmothers were instrumental in causing the offenders to abuse their wives or children.”
The deputy minister’s comments are regrettable as she seems to be placing the blame on women for the violent actions of others. Perpetrators of violence and abuse are responsible for their own actions – they are never blameless.
While it may be the case that the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry has received complaints of this nature, in the experience of WAO, an NGO that has assisted survivors of domestic violence for almost 30 years, this is a rare occurrence.
It is often the case that a perpetrator of domestic violence, usually a partner, husband or ex-husband, recruits others, sometimes gangsters, personal investigators or other acquaintances, to threaten their victim, which causes further fear and trauma.
The DVA was recently amended to cover these types of perpetrators who commit domestic violence through third parties. Once the amended DVA is gazetted, a court will be able to include in an Interim Protection Order a provision prohibiting a perpetrator from inciting another person to commit any act of domestic violence.
These amendments are positive, as perpetrators will continue to be held responsible for the abuse they carry out themselves as well as the violence they incite others to commit.
It is a shame that the deputy minister has chosen to make comments blaming women for acts of domestic violence committed by others.
It is especially unfortunate that she made these comments during “16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence”, a global campaign aimed at raising awareness of gender-based violence that runs from Nov 25 until Dec 10.
WOMEN’S AID ORGANISATION, Petaling Jaya.
Click here to see the Letter to the Editor on The Star website.