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Thursday August 22, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Thursday August 22, 2013 MYT 8:51:40 AM
Rohani speaking about the theme for this year’s Women’s Day celebration.
THE Women, Family and Community Development Minister shares her thoughts on stopping violence against women in light of the coming Women’s Day celebrations.
Question: Why was the theme “Respect Women: Society Flourishes” adopted for this year’s event?
Rohani: The theme was chosen because it is my ministry’s goal to reduce violence against women. The prevalence of such incidents is a serious concern.
However, we are not confining ourselves to just violence, discrimination and oppression; we are spearheading other initiatives and policies that will achieve gender equality, the empowerment of more women. and poverty alleviation in households.
We also chose the theme in recognition of the role of women in Malaysia and their significant contributions to their families, the economy and the nation.
What do you think needs to be refined, improved and enhanced to help women get the respect they deserve?
Although women are playing an increasingly prominent role in the development and administration of the nation, the agenda to keep them progressing must be further strengthened.
We need to encourage greater female participation in the labour force; increase their participation in business and entrepreneurial activities; further improve the health and well-being of women; reduce, if not stop, violence against women; and cut poverty while improving their quality of life. These are my objectives.
How can we start dealing with this problem of violence against women?
This is the responsibility of all parties. The effort should begin from home, where husbands, male relatives, other women and even children are taught to respect women.
We must also enforce the laws that we have, while working to fine tune these so that they provide even greater protection.
Various laws have been enacted to protect the rights, welfare and interests of women, but from time to time these must be reviewed and improvements made so that they remain relevant.
Take, for example, the Domestic Violence Act 1994, which was amended last year to expand the definition of domestic violence to include psychological abuse and emotional injury.
Then, there are the amendments made to the Penal Code, to provide a broader definition for cases involving rape. Sentences imposed on those convicted for rape have also been adjusted to take into account the type of rape.
A 2001 amendment now specifies that the jail term for incest is not less than six years and not more than 20 years, and now provides for whipping as a punishment.
We must also address the causes of domestic violence and the measures to deal with such incidents, along with increasing the places where abused women can get help.
Last year, we organised 21 safety campaigns for women in collaboration with local corporations nationwide. These help inform women on the precautions that they should be taking to ensure their safety.
We also need a boost to women’s support services, such as guidance and counselling programmes and 24-hour hotlines to handle complaints and questions.
What can a woman who is being abused do?
She should call the NUR 15999 hotline, a 24-hour service set up by my ministry to enable early intervention for victims of domestic violence, or contact the police hotline 03-20319999.
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