Join the White Ribbon Run to fight against gender-based violence

Photos By ART CHEN

'Break the Silence, End the Violence' is the theme of the White Ribbon Run, says AWAM deputy president Ng.

As a child, Myra grew up in a home where there was domestic violence, but she thought it was "normal".

"I never realised that other families functioned very differently from my family. The atmosphere at home was usually very harsh and tense. I thought this was 'normal' as I had never been to anyone else's home before. But when I was 18, I had a boyfriend (now my husband) and when I went to his home, I was so amazed and astonished because there was love and acceptance, it's so different from my home," she says.

"If only I had this awareness much sooner while still in school – that the violence was wrong and not normal – I would have spoken up earlier instead of enduring it until I was 18. By then, it was already too late," she adds.

The theme of this year's White Ribbon Run is 'Break the silence, end of the violence'. Photo: AWAMThe theme of this year's White Ribbon Run is 'Break the silence, end of the violence'. Photo: AWAM

"Break the Silence, End the Violence" is the theme for this year's White Ribbon Run and Campaign which aims to help eliminate gender-based violence, says All Women's Action Society (AWAM) deputy president Dr May Ng.

"Our society is reserved in the sense of whatever happens at home, people usually don't tell it to others outside. And this is applicable whether you are male or female, young or old," she says.

"Hence, a person who grows up in an environment of abuse might not realise that anything is out of the ordinary. They might think 'it's normal'," she adds.

This is why creating awareness on gender-based violence is so important, says Ng.

The team at AWAM.The team at AWAM.

"This is AWAM's fifth year doing the run. The last time was in 2016, and we thought it's time to reintroduce the campaign and run, especially since the Sexual Harassment Act enacted in 2022 has provided a huge impetus to our work in eliminating gender-based violence," she says.

"Another purpose of the run is also to raise funds to sustain our work to help survivors of gender based violence," she adds."Although we try to help all those in need of assistance, our target is to reach out to those in the lower socio-economic strata of society because they don’t have ready-access to information on gender-based violence.

"So, we bring the information to them through roadshows and setting up booth at events, and often at our own cost. This is why we need to raise funds," says Ng.

Besides advocacy and creating awareness, AWAM provides corporate training to companies – on what gender-based violence is, what to do if it happens, etc – because under the Employment Act, employers must take action if sexual harassment happens.

Join the White Ribbon Run to help end gender-based violence. Photo: AWAMJoin the White Ribbon Run to help end gender-based violence. Photo: AWAM

Informing on policy

AWAM is also involved in policy making. They engage closely with Government Ministries to provide consultation and feedback on policies that the Government plans to implement.

Besides the Women's Ministry, AWAM also works closely with the Youth and Sports Ministry to help them come up with the Safe Sports Code which helps prevent sexual harassment and misconduct among the sports community.

They also engage with the Bar Council, taking in young lawyers throughout the year so that they can practise their community service – at AWAM, they provide free legal services to the underprivileged in the community.

AWAM runs the Telenita Helpline.AWAM runs the Telenita Helpline.

AWAM also runs the Telenita Helpline where most of the calls are of domestic violence, gender-based violence (harassment, assault), mental health issues, work related issues, and others.

Internationally, the White Ribbon Campaign was started as the world’s largest movement of men and boys working to end violence against women and girls, promote gender equity, healthy relationships and a new vision of masculinity.

It first originated in Canada in 1991 when a group of men wanted to address the issue of violence against women after an incident known as the Montreal Massacre happened in an educational institution in Montreal in 1989. Since then, it has evolved into a global movement with activities and events taking place in more than 60 countries.

"As a women’s group in Malaysia, we resonate with what the rest of the world is going through in terms of international movements against gender- based violence, such as the "Me Too" movement which first originated in USA in 2006 and was later reinforced with the hashtag #MeToo in 2017," says Ng.

"Similarly, the White Ribbon Campaign is a good way to create more awareness in our country about gender-based violence, which happens everywhere in the world, and not just in Malaysia or Asia."

There are 30 exciting prizes up for grabs including a Samsung TV, Galaxy smartphones and more. Photo: AWAMThere are 30 exciting prizes up for grabs including a Samsung TV, Galaxy smartphones and more. Photo: AWAM

When asked "why a run", Ng says that one of the best ways to carry a message, besides viralling it online, is to wear it.

"A run is an event with many people, and the T-shirt that we provide to the participants is more than just a beautiful design – it carries the vital message 'Break the silence, end the violence'. When participants wear it, they are generating awareness about the issue of gender-based violence," she explains.

Every person that joins the run is one message on ending gender-based violence passed. And if each person that joins passes that message on to at least one other person, there will be a snowballing effect, says Ng.

The run takes place on Sun, Jan 14 at Padang Merbok, Kuala Lumpur. There are three categories (3km, 5km and 10km) and 30 amazing prizes - including a Samsung TV, Galaxy smartphones, and more - up for grabs.

For more info or to register: @awammalaysia (Instagram) or (Website)

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