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Former AG’s Chambers Head: Laws alone insufficient to curb domestic abuse and violence against women
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Former Senior Legal Counsel and Head of Prosecution of the Attorney General’s Chambers Dato’ Stanley Isaacs (2nd from right) said educating men and boys to respect and value women as well as their rights is important to prevent gender-based issues. Also present at the #WeForWomen forum include (left to right) actress and Enfiniti Academy course director Joanna Bessey, Malaysia’s first female Sports Commissioner Dato’ Zaiton Othman, Rumah Solehah Founder Matron Fadzilah Abdul Hamid and Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO) Executive Director Sumitra Visvanathan


Instead, educating men to respect and value women as well as their rights is crucial to preventing gender-based issues.

Petaling Jaya, 8 March 2019 – Enacting tough laws alone is insufficient to curb domestic abuse and violence against women. Instead, men and boys need to be educated to respect and value women as well as their rights.

This was the view of Dato’ Stanley Isaacs, former Senior Legal Counsel and Head of Prosecution of the Attorney General’s Chambers, when speaking about preventing domestic abuse and violence against women during the #WeForWomen forum session at the Yayasan Sime Darby International Women’s Day 2019 (YSDIWD2019) event today.

“You can have the best of laws. And looking at the (country’s) laws and its amendments, there is sufficient teeth in there to bite offenders. But that alone is insufficient,” he said during the forum which took place at the Sime Darby Plantation Auditorium in Sime Darby Plantation Tower, Ara Damansara.

“Many people, even educated men, still think that women are their properties. They can do what they like with them and no one should interfere with that. They need to know that this is not the case and it is not tolerated. Not here, not anywhere else in the civilized world,” he added.

For example, he said education and awareness would prevent personal biases that often clouds the judgement of enforcement officers when dealing with cases of domestic abuse.

“Enforcers need to be told that you have a duty to enforce (relevant laws). You have to be sensitive to complaints made to you. You have to be active and quick, you have to attend to it without any form of personal bias.

“And then men in public places, in working places, the men who go to religious institutions, the opportunities in school – children need to be taught to respect their mothers and sisters,” he added.

The forum was moderated by actress and Enfiniti Academy course director Joanna Bessey. Other forum panelists were Malaysia’s first female Sports Commissioner and 1982 National Sportswoman Dato’ Zaiton Othman, Rumah Solehah Founder Matron Fadzilah Abdul Hamid as well as the Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO) Executive Director Sumitra Visvanathan.

Dato’ Zaiton said increased female representation should not only be focused at the top management of organisations, but more crucially, at the lower management levels.

“I worked at the Youth and Sports Ministry and it has a high female representation at the top management of the ministry and various departments. But we don’t really focus on (the) lower management (of an organisation). We need to give opportunities to all women across all levels,” she said.

She added that opportunities such as training and seminars are offered to female employees working at the various sports agencies and organisations under the purview of the ministry, with the aim of enhancing their careers. However, female employees need to step forward to reap the benefits of these programmes.

The #WeForWomen forum session was just one of the highlights of the YSDIWD2019 event, which is the second installment of YSD’s flagship event to celebrate International Women’s Day.

The event, which was co-organised by WAO, was attended by more than 160 employees from Sime Darby Plantation Berhad, Sime Darby Property Berhad and Sime Darby Berhad.

YSDIWD2019, which carried the theme #WeForWomen, is part of WAO’s #WeForWomen campaign. The campaign seeks to engage with multiple stakeholders to raise awareness and educate all levels of society on how to respond immediately and appropriately to gender-based violence whilst supporting survivors.

“#WeForWomen is about our community standing up for gender equality and turning away from violence and discrimination against women. Together, we can create a better Malaysia, not just for women but for everyone in this country,” said Sumitra.

The event also featured a forum session with YSD Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Puan Hajjah Yatela Zainal Abidin, Yayasan Hasanah Trustee and Managing Director Shahira Ahmed Bazari and Yayasan Peneraju pioneer Raja Azura Raja Mahayuddin on the challenges they weathered before reaching their eminent positions in the respective foundations.

Survivors of domestic abuse also shared their personal stories during a conversational forum to highlight the importance of laws to protect the rights of women.

The event was officiated by YSD’s newly appointed Chairman, Tunku Tan Sri Imran Tuanku Jaafar.

“This year, YSD and WAO are making a clarion call with the event’s theme #WeForWomen. We wish to remind everyone gathered here today that it takes all of us, across all levels of society, to protect, support and empower women who need help, or who simply need to be believed,” he said during his speech at the event.

Also in attendance were YSD Governing Council Member Caroline Christine Russell, Sime Darby Berhad Group Chief Executive Officer and YSD Governing Council Member Dato’ Jeffri Salim Davidson as well as Sime Darby Plantation Berhad Deputy to Managing Director and Upstream Chief Operating Officer En. Mohamad Helmy Othman Basha.

YSD also celebrated its 10-year partnership with WAO at the event. YSD has been supporting WAO since 2010, with a total commitment of RM4.3 million for WAO’s Refuge Centre for Battered Women and their Children, advocacy work and the salaries of advocacy officers and social workers.

The partnership has led to the protection and assistance of almost 1,300 women at WAO’s Refuge Centre for Battered Women and their Children, the launch of a “Domestic Violence Shelter Standards and Toolkit in 2016, and advocacy for law reforms and enactments, including advocacy for a Gender Equality Act and laws to curb sexual harassment and stalking.

Under YSD’s Community and Health pillar, YSD has committed RM143.5 million towards initiatives that promote the well-being and health of disadvantaged people, reduce socio-economic disparities as well as enhance the welfare of neglected children and senior citizens, vulnerable women, people with disabilities and other marginalised groups.


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Last Updated:
11 Mar 2019
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