Domestic violence survivors need access to help during lockdowns


FOLLOWING the announcement by the National Security Council (NSC) that an enhanced movement control order will be implemented in several areas in Selangor and Kuala Lumpur, the Women’s Aid Organisations (WAO) would like to recommend three important considerations for the Domestic Violence Committee.

In the past week, WAO has received 12 domestic violence assistance requests from people needing to escape their homes/perpetrators. We fear that there will be an increasing need for support and we would like to request that the committee take immediate steps to ensure that domestic violence survivors can get adequate support during this enhanced MCO period.

The three recommended action are as follows:

Any SOP changes in the domestic violence survivor assistance pathways must be communicated to all frontliners and the general public (eg Emergency Protection Order, or EPO, and Interim Protection Order, or IPO, application processes, admission to safe places/shelters, reminders that one stop crisis centres are still operating and accepting survivors).

Exceptions to be granted for domestic violence survivors to cross the 10km boundary to access police assistance, hospitals or safe transit centres should be announced along with other enhanced MCO SOPs.

This recommendation is proposed based on the practice in other countries such as the United Kingdom which explicitly identifies domestic violence survivors as among those allowed to travel when a lockdown is enforced (bit.ly/vsurvivors).

To ensure public service announcements (PSAs) include the following:

1) A clear message that domestic violence is a crime (an act against the law).

2) A clear message that support and protection can still be accessed by survivors during the lockdown.

3) Any changes in procedures (eg IPO application process, admission to safe places and crisis centres).

4) Exceptions/arrangements that need to be made so that domestic violence survivors can leave their house, especially if they need to cross the 10km boundary to reach a safe place (eg, how to get travel permit for survivors).

5) Methods and platforms of PSAs on domestic violence should be diversified (eg via text messaging, during daily announcements by the NSC, the minister, national news, social media).

WAO will continue to provide support services to domestic violence survivors during the lockdown in accordance with any SOPs set by the government.

We thank the government and all frontliners, including police, welfare officers, and hospital workers, for their continued service to the people during this time.

WOMEN’S AID ORGANISATION (WAO)

Note: If you are experiencing abuse or know of someone who is, you can call the WAO hotline at 03-3000 8858 or text Tina (Think I Need Aid) at 018-988 8058. For more information, visit wao.org.my.

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