PETALING JAYA: The Covid-19 pandemic showed that domestic violence should no longer be seen solely as a "women's issue", says Wanita MCA chief Datuk Heng Seai Kie.
“I am of the strong opinion that domestic violence cannot be regarded as just a ‘women’s issue’ anymore.
“This pandemic has clearly shown us that, ” she said in her speech via video streaming at the International Conference of Asian Political Parties (ICAPP) Wednesday (Feb 24).
She said that a total of 1,986 domestic violence cases were reported throughout the country during the movement control order period between March and August 2020.
“This is a 53% increase from the average in the same periods before the outbreak of the pandemic, ” she added.
Besides domestic violence cases, she also said that a total of 7,957 divorce cases were recorded during the conditional MCO periods, representing a 250% increase compared to "normal" times.
Heng noted that domestic violence was a complex issue that is deeply woven in society and has long term effects on nation-building efforts
“This is timely as we can no longer sweep this issue under the carpet, or pretend that there ever will be a vaccine for it.
“It will not disappear, just because we do not feel comfortable discussing it, ” she said.
As such, she proposed that efforts on tackling domestic violence should be given the same priority as those given to address issues such as poverty eradication, education or job creation.
In response to this, she said the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry had set up an emergency hotline - Talian Kasih 15999 - for victims of abuse or those requiring help or protection.
She added that Budget 2021 had also placed emphasis on addressing gender issues, where RM21bil was allocated to set up social support centres to help women and families in need.
Heng said that Wanita MCA has been working alongside non-governmental organisations and civil society to tackle domestic violence.
She cited MCA’s Legal Advisory and Women’s Aid Centre (LAWA) as an example of the party’s effort to help victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, child abuse and neglect.
She said that MCA was also instrumental in amendments made to the Domestic Violence Act to ensure a holistic approach in addressing domestic violence.
Heng's speech was in relation to the topic of preventing and redressing domestic violence against women.