Malaysia women frustrated drug penalties harsher than sexual violence (Malaysia)

Posted on August 2, 2012

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Source: Bikyamasr

Malaysia’s women demand stiffer penalties, jail me for crimes of sexual violence.

KUALA LUMPUR: Over the past week, the plight of an Australian woman charged with drug trafficking in the country has stolen headlines in Malaysia. She is facing the death penalty if convicted along with her alleged Nigerian accomplice.

Women in Malaysia, however, have told Bikyamasr.com that they are increasingly frustrated that violent crimes against women receive less harsh jail terms as compared to largely non-violent crimes such as drug related offenses.

“I think it needs to be revamped and soon,” began social worker Mariam Aziz in Petaling Jaya, who told Bikyamasr.com that the regular battered women she receives “shows the need to increase the crackdown on violence against women and the sentences courts give out.”

She argued that it makes no sense for a country to put to death people who are trafficking drugs, while women “are the victims of violent crimes and the criminals get only a fraction of the jail time as drug criminals.”

She argued that with the rising number of reports of sexual violence directed toward women in the country, the government and police must “do a better job of protecting women and one of those ways is to make sure there is a deterrent. We need more than five years in jail for a rapist and someone who assaults a woman. It should be life.”

In July, Malaysia’s Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein announced the beginning of police efforts to enhance their training for security guards at shopping malls and car parks across the country as sexual violence against women continues to be reported.

The minister said the new training program will see a focus on shopping areas, where a majority of recent attacks against women have occurred.

Hussein said the new training curriculum would be completed “as soon as possible” in order to better maintain preparedness for the country’s 25,000 security guards at 330 shopping malls across Malaysia.

“It is not an issue of whether the crime rate is higher or not. What is important is that the public feels safe,” he said at a press conference after a meeting to establish new targets for the second leg of the National Key Results Area (NKRA) on crime.

Malaysia’s women’s rights organizations are hopeful that a proposal to put more security patrols at shopping mall car parks across the country will help end the recent spate of assaults.

However, they have raised a number of concerns over the move, asking the government to increase its efforts to protect women’s safety across Malaysia.

National Council of Women’s Organizations (NCWO) Deputy President Lim Bee Kau said the Rela members assigned to do the job “must be trained to respond to emergencies.”

A number of attacks reportedly occurred under the watch of security personnel who stood by and did not intervene.

Women’s Aid Organization Executive Director Ivy Josiah told reporters that there was a need for long-term measures to create a safe environment for all Malaysians.

“Do we have enough Rela personnel to be posted at every mall in the country?” she asked.

Sisters in Islam Program Manager for Advocacy, Legal Services and Public Education Suri Kempe was quoted by AsiaOne.com saying that “while the idea of additional security in shopping malls was welcomed, there must be clarity with regards to Rela’s role and responsibility when assigned to patrol shopping mall car parks.”

Fear of Attack

After a spate of attacks against women at car parks across Malaysia, Lulu Aziz is one of many women who said they can’t be out by themselves for fear of being attacked.

“I used to go shopping by myself, drive me car around and not have to worry about anything,” the 29-year-old advertising consultant in Petaling Jaya told Bikyamasr.com. “Now, I fear that someone will attack me and rape me. It is too much right now and I will go to work and stay home unless a friend will come with me.”

Aziz is single and with many of her closest friends already married, she said they “don’t want to go out during the week so it makes it tough on me.”

Other women, including an elderly woman in a letter to the editor of Free Malaysia Today, also said they fear being in public alone.

“I’m not asking for a red carpet to go to the wet market but merely lights in order not to feel so fearful of my safety,” the woman wrote, highlighting the growing concern over security concerns in the country in regards to female safety.

Malaysia women are blaming the government’s inaction after another woman reported being attacked at a car park in the country.

The woman, Nooralida M. Noor, reported that she was getting into her vehicle at a shopping center when a man attacked her, entered her var and slashed at her arm and neck, causing injuries.

Although she fought back and tried shouting, the man pinned her down and warned her “not to be stupid,” she said in her Facebook account.

The report comes as the country’s police force said they were boosting security at shopping centers across the country in an effort to combat the rising number of sexual assaults taking place.

But for women, the situation is becoming frustratingly debilitating.

Social worker Chiu Xiu told Bikyamasr.com in Kuala Lumpur that she believes the situation is becoming “critical” and called on the government to take greater action.

“It is important that the police are dealing with this, but they are moving too slow and our women in the country are scared to go out, go shopping and live normal lives,” she added, saying she has had to work with women who have been traumatized by the attacks on them across the country.

“We need something done and now,” she continued.

The question for many women in Malaysia, is will the government act?

BM

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