Battered women in Malaysia: prevalence, problems and public attitudes
This is a summary report of Women's Aid Organisation (WAO), Malaysia's national research on domestic violence. This study included the prevalence of physical abuse; public responses; and problems faced by the police, hospitals and legal agencies. Data were collected by interviews with 1221 randomly selected individuals above 15 years old in 1990; in-depth interviews with 60 battered women conducted in 1990/1991; interviews with 77 police, hospital, and civil and Muslim legal agency personnel between 1990 and 1992; and analysis of 38 case records of WAO. Findings show that Malaysia has a high level of physical abuse of women by husbands and boyfriends. Injuries battered women had sustained were bruises and swelling (50%), cuts (8%), head injuries (5%), burns (5%), fractures (3%), and miscarriages (3%). Psychological effects are also common. Acceptability of violence was found in 15% of men and women. Most acceptable circumstance for physical abuse was when the woman is not faithful, followed by disobedience to husband. Only 30% of the public stated that a woman should report the beatings to agencies. Problems encountered by the police are due to inadequacy of power to intervene, and limitations of the law, and lack of appropriate classification terms. Lack of time and no classification as a health problem, minimal counseling and low awareness are the problems found in the hospital. Legal and civil agencies are also faced with difficulties due to lack of standard procedures and services. This paper recommends strategies that would prevent and reduce domestic violence.
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