Puteri help for victims of domestic violence


BY WANI MUTHIAH AND JANE RITIKOS

PETALING JAYA: Puteri Umno wants to be a bridge between domestic violence victims and authorities, especially in rural areas where many do not know where to go for help. 

Its chief Azalina Othman Said said it was generally welfare officers who validated domestic violence cases and referred them to the relevant agencies but at times their numbers were inadequate to identify and root out the victims. 

“Puteri members on the ground can help in this area and since our members in rural areas are educated, they can help bring the affected parties to the right agencies,” she told reporters at Puteri Umno’s seminar on domestic violence yesterday. 

Azalina, one of the speakers at the day-long seminar organised by the wing’s Women and Family Development Bureau, said there was a lot to be done to ensure domestic violence victims received due justice. 

“We are impatient as there’s still so much of violence daily. There’s been enough talk. It’s time for action now,” she said. 

According to Azalina, Puteri Umno was concerned about issues such as unwanted pregnancies and incest as those involved generally found it difficult to take their cases to authorities. 

“In incest cases, for instance, Puteri members can render the necessary assistance to get children to the relevant agencies,” she said, adding that members could easily provide the help needed since some were doctors and lawyers. 

Deputy Supt Ong Chin Lan, head of the Special Investigation Unit (Sexual Assault Cases) in the Criminal Investigation Department at Bukit Aman, said the number of domestic violence cases was dropping as people were more aware of where to go for help and what to do. 

There were only 2,755 cases reported last year opposed to 3,107 in 2001, 3,468 in 2000, 3,806 in 1999 and 6,041 in 1998. 

She added that police officers had been trained to handle cases with utmost sensitivity, and welfare officers were at hand to help victims obtain an Interim Protection Order. 

However, said DSP Ong, even though cases were on the decline, the situation was still serious as the reported cases indicated at least seven to eight women were physically abused daily. 

Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said that economic problems or poverty was an unacceptable excuse for committing domestic violence.  

“People commit violence at home because they are weak in facing stress and lack moral and religious convictions,” he said when closing the seminar. 

Muhyiddin, who is also Umno vice-president, commended Puteri Umno for its move to provide counselling to victims and help eradicate the problem. 

Umno, he said, was not a body only with political objectives but one that aimed to resolve social problems plaguing the community.  

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