Man on mission to get more brethren into gender causes

Man on mission to get more brethren into gender causes

During his student days, Yu Ren Chung was interested in working on environmental issues and took up electrical engineering in university so he could focus on renewable energy and clean technology.

Yu has changed course since then and is now working for Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO), where he is the advocacy manager.

He credits prominent Malaysian women activists, especially Sisters In Islam (SIS) founder Zainah Anwar (below, right), for sparking his interest in gender equality.

As an undergraduate in Northwestern University, United States, Yu said he was first introduced to the world human rights activism when he attended a talk by Zainah in the US.

“By chance, she was travelling in the US when I was studying there and I attended an event organised by Malaysian students.

“She talked about her work in SIS and women’s rights in Malaysia, and I was really inspired by that, so I started researching a bit more and read about people like (Tenaganita co-founder) Irene Fernandez and the work she had been doing with migrant women,” he said in an interview with Malaysiakini at the WAO office in Petaling Jaya.

At around the same time, Yu was beginning to get disillusioned with approaching environmental issues through technology as he realised it was more of a political problem.

Instead of turning his back entirely, he delved into politics and public policies instead, taking up a minor in environmental policy and volunteering with political campaigns in the US as a student.

“I felt like the real challenge that needed to be solved was mainly political problems.

“Science and technology was way ahead and politics was way behind, so I focused my energy on (changing) that, so that exposed me to a number of issues like civil rights issues beyond environmental justice,” he said.

WAO a learning experience

When he returned to Malaysia, he was looking for a job in human rights advocacy and WAO seemed like the right fit for him, he said.

He has now worked for WAO for close to four years now, and it has been a “learning experience” for him.

While WAO provides services, crisis shelter, counselling and case management for domestic violence survivors, Yu focuses on advocacy work to change public policies and public attitudes.

He cited the Domestic Violence Act, where they have been pushing for reforms for three years, working closely with the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry, the Attorney-General’s Chambers, the women’s parliamentary caucus, the police as well as through joint advocacy with fellow women’s groups in Malaysia.

“The policy division within the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry is very proactive and forward-looking and we have a very good collaborative relationship with them,” he said.

WAO also works to improve enforcement of public policies, he said, recalling an instance when a hospital improved their one-stop crisis centre services after intervention from the women’s rights group.

They also advocate to change public attitudes about women’s rights, especially domestic violence against women, he said.

“That’s less about what the government is doing and more about what are people doing by themselves.

“Is violence against women something that people tolerate, like if you suspect domestic violence is happening in your neighbour’s house, are you going to stand by or stand up?” he said, giving an example.

Men have role

Though he has seen a positive impact from their work, there is still “a lot of room that needs to be filled”, he said.

Men, he said, have roles to play in the fight for women’s rights and gender equality as well.

There are two impetuses for men to be more proactive in the movement, he said, with the first being the effectiveness impetus, where there are certain situations where a man can be more effective in advocating for women’s rights.

Research has shown that a lot of men are more receptive to listening to other men when it comes to matters of women’s rights, he said.

Spaces that need to change the most are also usually the very spaces where men are most dominant, he added.

“Imagine if you are in a boardroom or any sort of high-level leadership where men are more representative because of other gender inequalities… those are spaces that more men have access to so there is a need (for men) to speak up in those areas,” he explained.

Aside from that, men also have a moral impetus to get involved in advocating for gender equality as most often, men are perpetrators of gender-based violence, he said.

Men top of chain

Even for men who are not directly oppressing women, Yu said all men benefit from the patriarchal system and male privilege regardless.

“In terms of fairness, there is a moral responsibility on men to actually do something about (gender inequality),” he said.

Men do not necessarily need to have special roles to play in the movement, he said, but they do have a responsibility.

There are several ways for men to be good allies in the fight for gender equality, he said, such as simply not perpetrating or perpetuating gender inequality and harassment.

More men should learn to question themselves on how they interact with their female colleagues, friends and family, he said.

They should also take it upon themselves to speak out when someone has said something that might be sexist, especially in a space with other men.

“Having more men that can be role models to champion this issue is something that can be important.

“It normalises the idea that men can take responsibility and be part of the solution,” he said.

WAO Hotline: 03 7956 3488

Or SMS/Whatsapp TINA at 018 988 8058 if you or someone you know is experiencing abuse.

Hope for domestic violence survivors

Hope for domestic violence survivors

Hope for domestic violence survivors

Tan Heng-Lee | 13 March 2017

When her husband hit her, Alice knew she had to leave.

She called 999, and they gave her Women’s Aid Organisation’s (WAO) hotline number. With WAO’s assistance, she lodged a police report and obtained an interim protection order. The police supported her throughout the process, even arranging her transportation to meet with the deputy public prosecutor. The court subsequently found her husband guilty of domestic violence.

Alice obtained justice because various stakeholders worked together in responding to her case.

Her story is one of 21 stories featured in WAO’s newly-launched case study report – ‘Perspectives on Domestic Violence: A Coordinated Community Response to a Community Issue’. In the report, domestic violence survivors share their experiences leaving violence, accessing protection, and seeking justice. Their stories show how a coordinated community response can change the lives of women facing domestic violence.

“This response must come not only from NGOs and the police, the welfare department and other government stakeholders, but from every community member. At the centre of this coordinated community response must always be the survivor,” explained Natasha Dandavati, WAO’s advocacy officer and author of the report.

The report also highlights WAO statistics and recommendations for policy makers to strengthen the response to domestic violence. The case study report can be downloaded at wao.org.my.

Together with the report, WAO also launched ‘Harapan Sentiasa Ada’, an art exhibit at Masjid Jamek LRT station, on display from March to mid-May 2017. The art exhibit features artwork by domestic violence survivors, their quotes, and illustrations of TINA. TINA or ‘Think I Need Aid’, is the WAO SMS/WhatsApp help service – conceptualised as a person survivors can talk to.

The art exhibit is sponsored by Selangor Properties Berhad and supported by Think City, as part of the Arts On The Move programme – a joint initiative by Think City and Prasarana Malaysia Berhad.

“Our art exhibit amplifies the voices of domestic violence survivors, many of them now empowered advocates in their own right. Their art offers hope to other survivors, and encourages them to seek protection and justice,” said Tan Heang-Lee, WAO’s communications officer.

“Art and stories make the impersonal personal. By highlighting the stories of domestic violence survivors, we also hope that the public will recognise our collective responsibility to reach out and support survivors. Domestic violence is a community issue – and it takes all of us to end domestic violence,” added Tan.

The launch was held in conjunction with International Women’s Day.

Through these projects, WAO hopes to amplify the voices of domestic violence survivors, enhance their access to protection, and ensure a coordinated community response to domestic violence. Together, we can bring hope and change the lives of domestic violence survivors.

If you or someone you know experiences abuse

Call the WAO Hotline at 03 7956 3488. Or SMS/WhatsApp TINA at 018 988 8058.

TAN HEANG-LEE is communications officer, Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO).

Common causes of domestic violence

Common causes of domestic violence

Common causes of domestic violence

Praise Maukazuva, 23 February 2017

There are many abusive relationships, and the only question to ask is: why?

The main answer is ‘control’.

The controlling characteristic that males attribute to their masculinity is the cause to these abusive relationships. When males don’t have control they feel their masculinity is threatened and they need to do something about it.

Here are some of the causes that can lead to domestic violence and abusive relationship.

1. Disagreement between a married couple.

The husband might be too controlling and might be making decisions of the family that only suit himself. Financial problems are the main causes of disagreements between a married couple.

2. Jealousy.

Some men are very jealous and envious that they end up making up suspicions and wrongly accusing their wives for infidelity. They probably do not want to see them talking to any man, even a family member except them.

3. Some men have grown up witnessing Domestic Violence between their parents.

This can affect them in two ways. Either psychologically resulting in a mental disorder and anger issues or they start to think it’s the only way they can solve their problems.

4. Alcohol and Drug abuse.

The influence of alcohol can enable violence because there will be no control of what you are doing and your behaviour changes. 61% of domestics violence has alcohol involved. Some men use alcohol as an excuse for abusing their wives.

5. Some societies do not have strong laws to support women against abuse.

The issue is often tolerated and seen as a normal thing and is justified. Low level of education contributes also as beating wives is still seen as a way of having control over your family. Which is wrong.

Domestic Violence should never be justified or excused. However it can be prevented. The key to prevention on the other hand is keeping it from happening in the first place.

So below are some key steps you can follow:

1. Be alert and take note of his behaviour changes.

Signs that show your partner can resort to Domestic Violence. These include mood swings that are unpredictable, Jealousy as mentioned earlier on, a controlling behaviour or explosive behaviour and lastly when he is making threats such as, I will kill you or beat you up. You can pick up these signs even before marriage. I have seen it even amongst teenage relationships. They are often short tempered, lack of respect and even alcohol abuse. You should not feel like you need to stay in a abusive relationship. You need to cut ties as soon as possible.

2. Try to maintain a healthy relationship with your partner.

If you have any concerns or problems, you need to help yourselves through counselling or to ask help from friends or family members. Not dealing with these issues will only make it difficult down the road. You need to be able to address your issues together and in a civilized manner. But this is only when there is a disagreement not after he has abused you.

3. You need to be aware of Association that are specifically for women in your community.

Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO) opened Malaysia’s first refuge to abused women in 1982. They provide shelter, counseling and social work for victims of Domestic Violence. Most of these Organizations educate both women and young girls on abuse, its impacts and how to be safe.

Training for volunteers // image via WAO Official Website

WOMEN’S AID ORGANISATION (WAO) HELPLINE

WAO Hotline: 03 7956 3488

WhatsApp/SMS TINA: 018 988 8058

WAO Hotline: 03 7956 3488

WhatsApp/SMS TINA: 018 988 8058

1 in 4 women experience Domestic Violence during her lifetime and more than half of these women have children that watch them helplessly as they are abused.

Don’t suffer in silence

Don’t suffer in silence

Don't suffer in silence

Praise Maukazuva, 21 February 2017

1 in 4 women experience Domestic Violence during her lifetime and more than half of these women have children that watch them helplessly as they are abused.

Repercussions of Domestic Violence vary from woman to woman depending on the type abuse they would have experienced. It can be from their partners, members of the family or total strangers.

The different types of abuse are:

Physical This includes Slapping, hitting, kicking, choking, restraining or any other torture that involves human contact.
Emotional In this type of abuse comes intimidation, degradation, being yelled at or being given a silent treatment. This will also lower their self esteem.
Sexual Sexual activity without her consent and without any contraceptives.
Verbal When you are being called names, being accused of doing things that you haven’t done, when for example your spouse lies to you.
Social Yes! This is actually a form of abuse, that includes a lot of things like a controlling husband, being ill treated in the public or stalking you wherever and whatever you do.
Financial Financial abuse varies from not being able to support the family making them starve, Or it’s the woman who is working but her money is being used by her husband for things that do not benefit the family.
Human Trafficking Although this stands as another different and serious issue, it still remains a type of abuse, as women are forced work in terrible conditions as prostitutes, servants or in farming areas. They are often beaten up, drugged and starved. If she refuses, her children will be at risk.

According to the Kuala Lumpur Hospital Emergency and Trauma Department, 4000 cases have been reported from January 2016 to January 2017 in Malaysia. With the highest of 498 in Selangor and most cases reported from Malays compared to Indians and Chinese.

Apparently reports have increased rapidly compared to other years. This is because more people have become aware of Domestic Violence as a crime, and are now reporting.

Examples of Malaysians who suffered recent domestic violence are Ana and Shona Roy.

Ana experienced domestic violence for 13 years. Her husband forced her to stop working and he treated her like a slave. She faced physical abuse and the only thing that made her endure all this was for her two sons. Read more

Shona Roy was married to a Saudi-Arabian man, and endure domestic violence for 8 years. The husband was cheating, violent to the extent that he chased her around with a knife, refused her custody of her children and then tried to kidnap them from the hands of their mother.

Shona Sinha Roy // image via says.com

Imagine the pain that these two women have endured. Would you want to suffer the same fate? Take not, it can happen to anyone. That brings us to the next issue, how can we stop Domestic Violence. In Order for us to prevent this trivial issue we need to be aware of the causes.

Remember, the abused is not the cause of the problem. It is the abuser who is in total control and who takes full responsibility for us.

Abusive relationships, early marriages and violence make women susceptible in marriage. They will not have the courage to say no to an abusive husband. In cases where there are financial problems and employment is scarce, they are scared they will not be able to take care of their children so they’d rather be abused and have their children safe.

Those that stay in an abusive relationship for the sake of their children are making the biggest mistakes of their lives, and also their children’s lives because they are greater chances that your children will also resort to Domestic Violence thinking it’s a normal way of living.

But is it fair for women to be caught in such a dilemma, and in this day in age? No matter how many times women beg for help, society turns a blind eye to them, families put pressure on them, and people around trampled on them, make them realized that they don’t have a voice in this world. But after all, they’re still living and fighting for themselves until now. Their perseverance is admirable though they were treated badly. Without women, can the world be advanced like this? And why must these unfortunate people suffer severe consequences and unjust though they have devoted a lot for humanity?

In conclusion, violence against women is a difficult problem to solve. This is not always under control to be able to fix at all. But people will always have the most reasonable resolutions. I hope that this issue will soon be resolved smoothly so that all of the women will no longer have to suffer from those pains.

WOMEN’S AID ORGANISATION (WAO) HELPLINE

WAO Hotline: 03 7956 3488

WhatsApp/SMS TINA: 018 988 8058

WAO Hotline: 03 7956 3488

WhatsApp/SMS TINA: 018 988 8058

Understand the common causes that lead to domestic violence and ways to prevent it.