Allow stateless children access to govt schools while waiting for citizenship approval, says Fatimah

Fatimah (left) speaking to reporters after chairing the SWFC meeting today. Also present is Rosey (second left).

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By Jaythaleela K

MIRI, March 7: The Sarawak Women and Family Council (SWFC) feels that stateless children in Sarawak should not be denied access to government schools while waiting for their citizenship applications to be approved by the Home Ministry.

Thus, SWFC has appealed to the Home Ministry to speed up the process and address the issues properly.

Its chairperson, Dato Sri Fatimah Abdullah, said this after chairing the SWFC meeting held in Miri today.

Also present was Deputy Minister of Women, Childhood, and Community Development Datuk Rosey Yunus.

Fatimah is currently in Miri for the State-level Women’s Day celebration, which will be launched tomorrow.

“We are also appealing to the Ministry of Education (MOE) to allow these children access to education in the State while they are waiting for their citizenship approval,” said Fatimah, who is also Minister of Women, Childhood, and Community Wellbeing Development.

In this regard, Fatimah thanked the Centre of Technical Excellence (CENTEXS) for approving SWFC’s request to allow stateless children to undergo skill training at the institute while waiting for their citizenship applications to be approved.

Another issue raised during the meeting was sexual violence against boys.

Fatimah pointed out that to prevent sexual violence against boys, parents and caregivers need to be aware of it.

“According to statistics from 2016 to 2021, more than 90 per cent of cases of sexual violence against children are committed by people the victim knows, or the person is in a position of trust.

“Please don’t turn a deaf ear. It is important to lodge a report immediately so that the police can start their investigation. By ignoring their complaints, parents and guardians are letting the victims suffer in silence,” she said.

SWFC is also appealing to the court to treat such cases with urgency.

“The victims are the primary witnesses, so are the investigating officers. Delays in trying the case may seriously affect the justice of the case when the victim and other material witnesses have to pursue their studies in other towns, cities or overseas, or the Investigating Officers (IO) are transferred, thus making it difficult to secure the attendance of witnesses in court,” she said. ― DayakDaily