Speak up and break the silence

(From left) Muhammad Iqbal, Koh, Fernandez, Yan, Lim, Bissett, Jamaliah, Supt Wong, Insp Jeyamalar and Ho making their pledge at the White Ribbon Run and Campaign 2024 launch. — Photos: IZZRAFIQ ALIAS/The Star

Awam’s White Ribbon Campaign calls for action against gender violence

THE All Women’s Action Society (Awam) urges men to speak out against gender violence to prevent this scourge against women through its fifth White Ribbon Campaign and Run 2024.

With the theme ‘Break the Silence, End the Violence’, this campaign aims to highlight the disproportionate violence against women and girls.

Campaign chairman Judith Loh-Koh said one in three women globally had experienced violence verbally, physically and sexually.

“Men are against the violence women face, but why are they silent?

“We should create a safe space for everyone, especially the women in our lives because when violence happens, it affects them physically and psychologically,” she said, adding that Awam with other women groups and campaign ambassadors were working together for this cause.

Sarimah (left) and Nelissa share their experiences with workplace harassment.Sarimah (left) and Nelissa share their experiences with workplace harassment.

“With all of us speaking out and breaking the silence, we can end violence against women,” said Loh.

Awam president Ho Yock Lin said one of the campaign goals was to push the thought into people’s minds that “domestic violence is not a private matter, but a crime that needs to be voiced out”.

“Fighting against gender-based violence cannot be done by women only. We need men to speak up and be counted as allies.

“This campaign is not just a symbolic gesture, but a call to action to create a society where gender-based violence is unacceptable, where women are treated with respect and are able to live without the fear of violence,” she said.

Actress Nelissa Nizam and Sarimah Ibrahim shared their personal experiences on workplace harassment.

“I faced workplace harassment from a security guard who then tried to dissuade me from reporting the incident,” said Nelissa.

She added that the drama series Riot gave her a chance to play a character that stands up against gender-based violence.

“I get to assert myself in the show, something I could not do in real life,” she said.

Sarimah said encountering these challenges as a woman should not be a measure of one’s strength during such incidents.

One in three women globally have experienced violence verbally, physically and sexually. - Judith Loh-KohOne in three women globally have experienced violence verbally, physically and sexually. - Judith Loh-Koh

“It is really about whether the community is strong enough to see the victim’s truth,” she said.

In her speech, Bandar Utama assemblyman Jamaliah Jamaluddin said given that a majority of reported domestic violence cases involved women as victims of men, men must be included in the conversation for effective resolution.”

She said there was a 42% spike in police reports on domestic violence between 2020 and 2021.

“Normalising this conversation is the best prevention method rather than victim-blaming and ignoring this issue,” she added.

White Ribbon Campaign and Run ambassador Muhammad Iqbal Fatkhi said he joined the campaign because it was his responsibility as a man and a human to advocate against gender-based violence.

Also present during the launch of the campaign were United Nations Population Fund Malaysia assistant representative Tengku Aira Tengku Razif, Canadian High Commission to Malaysia’s political counsellor Robert Bissett, Kampung Tunku assemblyman Lim Yi Wei, Royal Malaysia Police Sexual, Women and Children Crime Investigation Division Supt Wong Pooi Lin, as well as campaign ambassadors JJ Fernandez, Yan Ke Wong and Hugh Koh.

The run will have six categories, divided into two sections for individual and group participation, including 3km, 5km and 10km run options.

The run is scheduled to kick off on Jan 14, 2024 at Padang Merbok in Kuala Lumpur.

Registration is open until Dec 18 this year.

For details, visit www.awam.org.my/white-ribbon-campaign.

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