Minister cautious about drop in domestic violence reports during MCO (updated)

Datuk Seri Fatimah Abdullah

KUCHING, April 16: There was a drop in domestic violence (DV) cases with 28 reported in the first two weeks of April in Sarawak, which leads Datuk Seri Fatimah Abdullah to examine the role the Movement Control Order (MCO) is playing behind the decrease in number of cases.

The Minister of Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Childhood Development highlighted that this year, there were 106 DV cases reported in January, 80 in February and 60 in March.

“DV has been on the increasing trend in Sarawak with 486 cases reported in 2018 and 563 cases in 2019. Miri ranked the highest in 2019 with 109 cases followed by Kuching with 72 cases.

“Higher DV cases were reported in rural areas with 305 cases in 2018 and 309 cases in 2019, as compared to urban areas recording 181 cases in 2018 and 254 cases in 2019,” she elaborated in a press statement today.

Hence, Fatimah questioned about the contributing factors to the decrease in domestic violence during the MCO period.

“Could it be due to the fact that everyone is at home thus act as a deterrent factor? Or could it be due to the difficulty faced by the victim to make a report?” she asked.

She thus hopes that the statistics by the end of April or May (if the MCO is extended) will speak for itself.

She also noted the nationwide decrease in the crime index (CI) during the MCO period, with Sarawak registering 970 cases in January, 812 in February, 417 in March and 117 as of April 15.

Fatimah also pointed out that the main causes for DV was due to the influence of drugs and substance abuse followed by hot tempers.

“Looking at the numbers from April 1-15, it suggested that the bulk of DV cases is not between husband and wife (4 out of 28 cases) but between parent and children (12 of 28 cases),” she said.

The state government, she added, has also implemented various programmes in collaboration with stakeholders with objectives to strengthen the family institution, stop domestic violence, encourage victims to speak up, protect children, give support to victims on recovery, standard operation procedure to manage DV cases and provide shelter homes.

“We believe that addressing DV issues must be done holistically, including engaging all relevant stakeholders all the way.

“The chain of commitment from all must not be broken. To the victim, they should not suffer in silence while to all, stop and say no to violence,” she reminded.

Those experiencing domestic violence may call the JKM (State Welfare Department) helpline at 082-514141 or JWKS (Department of Women and Family Sarawak) helpline at 082-448866. — DayakDaily

Note: This article has been updated to correct the figure of reported domestic violence cases in April.