The Covid-19 crisis and subsequent movement control order (MCO) has led to a spike in domestic violence. The Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO) has revealed that over 800 cases of domestic violence were reported last month, more than three times the figure in February.
WAO executive director Sumitra Visvanathan said 250 domestic violence reports were received in February through their telephone hotline, messaging services, and the following months recorded an increase of over three times the figure.
In a statement Sumitra said that this sharp increase since the beginning of the lockdown is extremely concerning.
“The MCO was necessary to control Covid-19, but the government must also recognise that for many women and children home is not a safe haven – but actually quite the opposite,” she said.
Sumitra explains that when survivors are isolated together with their abusers, this creates a situation where it’s easier for the abuser to exert control physically, emotionally, and socially.
While lauding the government’s moves in ensuring services are available for domestic violence survivors, the NGO notes that there have been lapses in the national response to this dire issue, especially during the initial stages of the MCO.
She also highlights that the effects of the pandemic and MCO will linger and are a sign that the government must be better equipped to ensure the critical protection needs of survivors are met.
Among the improvements suggested by WAO to aid domestic violence survivors include adequate staffing for the Talian Kasih hotline and a clear mandate for domestic violence protection orders to be applied for and issued online.
The organization also points out the pressing need for clear standard operating procedures (SOPs) for the Social Welfare Department’s shelters and designated first responders.
During the earlier phases of the MCO, the topic of domestic abuse was a major issue with several reports by women’s rights groups noting significant increase in distress calls while the national Talian Kasih hotline reportedly logged a 57% increase in calls.
This reached a fever pitch when the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry released baffling social media posters advising women to talk in a “Doraemon-like tone of voice” and giggle to avoid arguments at home.
Are you a victim of domestic violence or do you know someone who is? Head over to the Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO) website as they’re ready to help you.
Alternatively, you could reach them through their Hotline at 03-7956 3488 or SMS/WhatsApp TINA helpline at 018-988 8058.
News Credit: Malaysiakini
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