KUCHING: A study has shown that many single mothers from broken marriages in Sarawak face a host of problems and regret getting married when they were too young.
State Social Development and Urbanisation Minister Datuk Dr James Masing said the study revealed emotional problems among this group such as feelings of being betrayed and hurt by men, depression, shame and a lack of desire to socialise.
The study on single mothers in the lower socio-economic strata group was commissioned by the state Women Bureau and conducted by researchers from Universiti Malaysia Sarawak and UiTM Samarahan.
“Other problems they face include those related to finance, health and shelter. They are worried about the future,” added Dr Masing in a speech to open a workshop for single mothers at Holiday Inn Damai Lagoon Resort yesterday.
The text of his speech was read by the ministry’s permanent secretary Morshidi Ghani.
Dr Masing also said the study revealed that the husbands' extra-marital relationships were a major cause for divorce in the state. Other factors were frequent quarrels over money, domestic and sexual abuse, interference from in-laws, alcoholism and drug abuse.
Single mothers covered by the studies, he added, not only did not receive any maintenance but had to pay for their ex-husbands’ debts.
According to the study, while 77% of the single mothers were employed, more than half of them earned less than RM300 a month.
“Those who have been unemployed for a long time are totally dependent on their own families, charitable organisations and the state Social Welfare Department for financial support.
“They are also facing problems with their children's discipline, and caring for young children and aged parents,” Dr Masing said.
The department, he added, was now giving financial aid to over 3,300 single mothers earning less than RM425 a month and with children to support.
Under the general family assistance, they receive between RM70 and RM250 a month, based on the number of dependants.
Twenty-two single mothers have also received launching grants of up to RM5,000 each to help them start small businesses.