GEORGE TOWN: Support for victims of domestic violence should be classified as an essential service during the movement control order (MCO) period, urged Penang Women’s Centre for Change (WCC).
In a statement released by the centre, it said stress levels across the country has increased as a result of MCO and women are susceptible to domestic violence during the period.
"As a result of the MCO, stress levels across Malaysia have skyrocketed.
"Families, cooped up together at home for weeks, are on edge.
"Economic hardship is rampant. Women are especially vulnerable to domestic violence during this tense period," said the statement released on Friday (April 17).
It also said the risk of domestic violence not only increases in terms of the number of abusive incidents but also in their severity.
"WCC’s telephone counselling data over the first four weeks of the MCO show a clear increase in the number of domestic violence cases handled compared to previous months.
"In January this year, we handled 27 cases, followed by 16 cases in February, and 33 cases in the first four weeks of the MCO from March 18 to April 14.
"WCC has also received four urgent calls pertaining to domestic violence, three of which involving the need for emergency shelter," it read.
The centre urges the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry to streamline urgent domestic violence response measures during the MCO, with priority given to emergency shelters, access to transportation for victims, and clearance for travel outside the restricted 10km radius and curfew hours in order to access support.