Women's Aid Organisation (WAO)

WAO opened Malaysia's first Refuge for battered women and their children in 1982. WAO Vision is to create a society that is free of violence against women. The WAO mission is to promote and create respect, protection and fulfillment of equal rights for women and to work towards the elimination of discrimination against women and to bring about equality between women and men.
May 25, 2014

No need for a women's movement?

Aiyoh...Wat Lah?!
Aiyoh...Wat Lah?!

The Aiyoh… Wat Lah?! Awards is back!

For those who aren’t familiar with Aiyoh: it is an annual spoof awards event by the Joint Action Group for Gender Equality (JAG) to spotlight instances of sexism, misogyny, homophobia and/or transphobia from the previous year.

Although this year’s ceremony will mark the third anniversary of the Awards, the organising committee was, unfortunately, spoilt for choice when it came to shortlisting the nominees. In other words, gender inequality is alive and well, and it is rampant, so don’t let anybody try to convince you otherwise.

Nominees for the Aiyoh Awards are divided into 7 categories. Each category, bar ‘Right on Track’, is chock-full of (sadly unsurprising) regressive statements, with women and the LGBT community bearing the brunt of the situation.

Amongst the ‘Policy Fail’ category, the Penang state government reported stating that it would reconsider sending female athletes to the SUKMA games. This was in view of a rape which allegedly occurred at the 2013 games. In the same vein, a PAS Member of Parliament urged the government to prohibit ‘indecent dressing’ to help overcome sexual crimes and sexual harassment.

Should they be lauded for their efforts in overcoming rape and other sexual crimes? Not quite. In fact, not at all: under the guise of benevolence, this is a classic case of victim-blaming. Let’s be real. What is it that causes rape? There’s just one factor: rapists.

Rape happens regardless of whether a woman wears a short skirt or a hijab; rape happens at home. Rather than inculcating the much needed compassion for the victims, why are public figures still encouraging the same old, tired rhetoric that instructs women, ‘Don’t get raped,’ instead of educating the perpetrators in society, ‘Don’t rape’?

Another trend amongst Aiyoh 2014 nominees is unchecked homophobia and transphobia. Deputy Education Minister Mohd Puad Zarkashi warned, ‘Just like drugs, a lack of awareness will cause LGBT to spread,’ likening LGBT individuals to the plague.

This is not an exaggeration: UMNO delegate Abd Mutalib Abd Rahim reportedly said that ‘LGBT exists in the west so that people can be purged.’ This statement not only equates non-heterosexual lifestyles to a disease, it also insinuates that LGBT practices are an exclusively Western phenomenon.

It is ironic really, when you consider that trans-persons have been influential figures in the Malay Archipelago. Up to the 20th century, many trans-people were esteemed local leaders, and transwomen were royal courtiers. Sorry guys, they’ve been around well before your first baby step, and they are in no way a ‘Western thing’.

Sure, not everybody agrees on the idea of diverse sexual orientations and identifications, but here’s something to keep in mind: some deliberately capitalise on this dissonance to gain political mileage. At the end of the day, LGBT individuals are human beings who have all the right to be treated as equals and in compliance to universal human rights standards.

Let’s not allow bigotry get the better of us. It doesn’t take a radical activist to hope and strive for a Tanah Air that is safe, compassionate and just – anyone with a shred of human decency can.

At this point, do you still believe that gender equality has long existed in Malaysia? At the 2013 Aiyoh Awards, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak took the cake for ‘Insulting Intelligence’ with the statement: ‘There is no need for a women’s rights movement in Malaysia because equality has been given from the start.’ Is that so? If that were the case, statements from the Aiyoh nominees should not have been made in the first place.

The Aiyoh… Wat Lah?! event will take place at Merdekarya, Petaling Jaya on Sunday 1 June 2014 at 7.00pm. 

This Letter to the Editor was written by Kristine Yap, Advocacy Officer at Women’s Aid Organisation

Mar 6, 2014

How Red Thread Can Change Lives

No Excuse For Abuse
No Excuse For Abuse

"I'm afraid of him, but leaving will bring shame to my family."
"I don't want my children to grow up without their father."
"It's only a broken arm. At least he's not having an affair."

Have you heard these from someone you know?

It's hard to walk away from abuse. Many may not realise the abuse and continue to justify it without knowing.

This International Women’s Day, WAO is unveiling an installation art exhibition with the theme #NoExcuseForAbuse to raise awareness on the early stages of abuse.

If you are in Kuala Lumpur, you can drop by Publika (ground floor, in front of The Jeans Bar) on Saturday, 8 March 2014 from 10.00am till 6.00pm to see this powerful installation addressing the issues of domestic violence. The exhibition will run till 17 March 2014.

We are also hoping that you are able to participate in this campaign at where you are (if you are not in Malaysia). When you post quotes and updates on your social media platform on Saturday 8 March, we would like you to send an encouraging message to all women affected by domestic violence that there is actually #NoExcuseForAbuse. Remember to include the hashtag.

If you are interested with our cause, you can be our advocate. Keep yourself updated at www.wao.org.my, facebook.com/womens.aid.org and Twitter @womensaidorg. You can also donate to WAO to keep our work sustainable. We are on GlobalGiving here.

We will see you on the ground and online! Happy International Women’s Day!

Stop domestic abuse
Stop domestic abuse
Jan 8, 2014

Survivors Speak Up - Domestic Violence in Malaysia

Speaking up takes a lot of courage. A recent project by WAO gives a voice to domestic violence survivors so they can share their stories with you. Unsilenced, these women are taking a bold stand against violence, intimidation and discrimination. You might find their stories horrific and disturbing but they are here to remind you. Many survivors do not talk about their abuse, at least not publicly, because of the social stigma surrounding them. However, Krishna, Lydia* and the family of Nur Hidayah featured in the recent video “Survivors Speak Up”  relived their pain so that we are aware of the issues of domestic violence and how the legal and justice system can be better.

Today, we hope that you can spare 20 minutes of your time and watch the video. We have heard many stories of abuse because of our work with survivors but we want you to hear them out too.

To view, click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SvoK75WzHHY

At the mere age of 16, Krishna married her ex-husband after he raped her. Throughout their marriage, she was physically harmed, humiliated and threatened. She was scarred on her check and her left thumb, severed. Krishna made more than 20 police reports but there was no action taken. Her ex-husband was not charged. Krishna is still living in fear that he will come after her and her children.

Lydia* and her children lived with hostility and abuse. They were kicked, punched and stepped on. Fortunately, Lydia sought help from a WAO social worker and was informed about the Interim Protection Order (IPO). She obtained an IPO promptly. Lydia has now filed for divorce and found a new job.

In October 2013, 28 year old Nur Hidayah A Ghani was beaten to death by her husband. A domestic violence fatality. She was in the process of filing for divorce as she could no longer endure the abuse. She and her family also made police reports. One report after another, no action was taken to protect her. Sadly, Nur Hidayah didn’t make it. One more life lost because we are missing the red flags.

*Name has been changed to protect the identity of survivor

Links:

donate now:

An anonymous donor will match all new monthly recurring donations, but only if 75% of donors upgrade to a recurring donation today.
Terms and conditions apply.
Make a monthly recurring donation on your credit card. You can cancel at any time.
Make a donation in honor or memory of:
What kind of card would you like to send?
How much would you like to donate?
  • $10
    give
  • $20
    give
  • $30
    give
  • $50
    give
  • $100
    give
  • $10
    each month
    give
  • $20
    each month
    give
  • $30
    each month
    give
  • $50
    each month
    give
  • $100
    each month
    give
  • $
    give
gift Make this donation a gift, in honor of, or in memory of someone?