Yeoh: Family disputes behind some child abuse cases

  • Nation
  • Saturday, 13 Apr 2019

PETALING JAYA: More than 17% of child abuse cases reported since 2013 were due to family disputes, says the Women, Family and Com­munity Development Ministry.

Deputy Minister Hannah Yeoh said from 2013 to last November, 26,314 cases of child abuse were reported.

“Family disputes have become one of the main reasons of child abuse with 4,583 cases or 17.42% from the total cases,” she said at the ground-breaking event for the new Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO) Child Care Centre along with the launch of WAO Report “Where’s the Child: The Rights of Child Domestic Violence Survivors” yesterday.

Yeoh said that parents and family members needed to be more alert with their children and be aware whether there had been changes in their attitude and behaviour.

She said while the exact number of children in Malaysia who had witnessed or experienced domestic violence was unknown, a study by a local university showed 9% of partnered women in the country had experienced domestic violence.

“That’s about 800,000 women,” said Yeoh.

The study by the Universiti Sains Malaysia’s Centre for Research on Women and Gender also found that 73% of these women reported that their children had seen or heard the violence in the household.

“This is equivalent to the children of 584,000 women, whose children have witnessed domestic violence,” she said.

Yeoh said the Welfare Depart­ment was authorised to provide an Emergency Protection Order for domestic abuse victims within 24 hours of a report being lodged but many were afraid to file such reports.

Last year, Yeoh said the ministry’s Talian Kasih hotline received 15,000 calls on various issues, including from children who were victims or had witnessed domestic violence.

“Usually during the school holidays, we get calls from children who complained that they were lonely,” she said.

WAO executive director Sumitra Visvanathan said one of the main issues surrounding domestic abuse cases was the imbalance of power and control.

“It tends to be a situation where one person who has too much po­­wer asserts that power in a way to control another person,” she said, adding that other reasons included trigger factors such as drugs and alcohol abuse.

Meanwhile, Yeoh praised the collaboration between WAO and the Real Estate and Housing Developers’ Association Malaysia (Rehda) Youth for the new childcare centre which adopted green design principles to help reduce overall cost of operations for WAO.

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