Imagine that you are all alone and miles away from your home country. What happens when you lose all your important documents like your identification card or a passport? Of course, the first thing to do is to run to the nearest police station, lodge a report and head to the embassy for help.
This scenario leads to our topic of non citizen wives in Malaysia. Married to Malaysian husbands, the women have to depend on them to maintain their legal status in the country. The renewal of the “long term social visit pass” for non citizen wives requires the physical presence of the husband at the Immigration office. The pass must be renewed every year. If you’re thinking that’s inconvenient, there’s more.
After living for 5 years in Malaysia, you can now apply for permanent residency and off you go to the Immigration department again. However, you will still need the Malaysian spouse to be present to endorse your application. While you wait for decades for it to be processed, you want to find a job and earn a living. The Malaysian spouse must give a written permission for their wives to work. It’s impossible to be independent.
Things get even more complicated when there’s a situation of domestic violence. We met *Kelly, a non citizen wife, when she came to WAO for help. She was physically abused by her Malaysian husband. She was terribly hurt and traumatized. She made attempts to run away but was caught every time and beaten in the end. She made a police report but was forced to withdraw it. She was separated from her young children and is now seeking help to locate them. She just wants to find her children, go back to their home country and leave this ordeal behind.
Kelly will not be the last person affected by bureaucracy that doesn’t seem to give much support to “foreign” wives. What are non citizen wives eligible for then? Can they get permission to remain in the country? What about work authorisation? Why isn’t there any exception for non citizen wives who are also domestic violence survivors?
WAO’s advocacy work also includes lobbying for the rights of non citizen wives. We compile a report and submit memorandums seeking change in policy implementation so that all women including non citizen wives living in Malaysia do not face discrimination. Today, there are approximately 50,000 non citizen wives in our country.
If you support what we do, go to facebook.com/womens.aid.org and like us! You can then post comments and be involved!
*Name has been changed to protect identity
Dear friends of WAOSelamat Tahun Baru! Happy New Year to all of you! Here in Malaysia we will also be celebrating Chinese New Year – the year of the Dragon.Hope everyone had a good start to 2012. This year, the Women’s Aid Organisation turns 30 and what a journey it has been. For many years, we heard from women recalling horrific abuses that they have to face but we also heard their inspiring stories of fighting back and staying strong.In December 2011, we were shocked when one of our clients was abducted by her own husband. She was kidnapped twice and the second time, 6 men hired by her husband took her away to another state. Her family, her employer and WAO made police reports. Fortunately when she was forced by her husband to withdraw a previous report that she made against him, this report that was made in another state led the police to where she was being held.During this ordeal, an investigation police officer still maintained that this abduction is a private family matter! Remember when you received our last project report and we talked about seeing improvements in the welfare department, the police and the courts?In 2012, we want to advocate strenuously for protection and safety for women, especially those in dangerous situations. Victim safety must be at the heart of police response. We want to change the attitude of the police because a number of them still think domestic violence is a family affair and by taking action, they believe that they are breaking up the family. And because of that, there wasn’t any urgency in investigating these cases.Why are there still misguided notions that women are supposed to suffer and ‘just bear with it’? By now, the public should already know that no one deserves to be battered.This year, WAO will also be planning to expand its services to another state to reach out to more women and continue educating the public especially the younger generation about their participation in stopping violence against women.We are now migrating to a new FB page and you can ‘Like’ us at facebook.com/womens.aid.org and advocate for change.
Dear friends of WAO
How time flies! We are only three months away from a brand new year. Once again, GlobalGiving is giving us an opportunity to fundraise on their final Bonus Day of 2011! On 19 October between 12:01am and 11:59pm EDT (GMT-4), GlobalGiving will match 30% all online donations up to $1,000 (RM3125) per donor per project! In addition to that, GlobalGiving is offering a $1,000 bonus to the project that raises the most funds that day and a $1,000 bonus to the project that receives donations from the most individual donors! Only online donations (credit card or paypal) are eligible for matching. What a fantastic way to fundraise! So, mark your calendar and donate to WAO at http://www.globalgiving.co.uk/pr/8400/proj8346a.html to support our work!
As we gear towards 2012, we are also hoping to see changes and improvements in the welfare department, the police and even the courts.
This is why. Recently, a differently abled mother was separated from her 6 month old baby. The estranged husband had taken away the child and his lawyer has managed to delay court proceedings. Now, she is only allowed to see her baby for 4 hours per week in meeting places chosen by her husband which makes it impossible for the mother to breastfeed and bond with her baby.
How did that happen? A family court is supposed to provide a humanitarian approach to issues that come under their jurisdiction especially matters involving children. Therefore, WAO aims to lobby for a better family court system whereby the process should be less adversarial because the system should be looking at what’s best for the child, not who’s winning.
A big part of WAO’s work is on advocacy. We are here to ensure that the rights of women are protected. We seek to change the inequity in the law, policy and social structure that affect a woman’s life.
Check out the latest news on WAO
Empowering abused women http://thestar.com.my/lifestyle/story.asp?file=/2011/10/12/lifefocus/20111011201540&sec=lifefocus
Seeing violence against women in a wider perspective http://thestar.com.my/lifestyle/story.asp?file=/2011/10/12/lifefocus/9667212&sec=lifefocus
Upholding women’s rights http://thestar.com.my/lifestyle/story.asp?file=/2011/10/12/lifefocus/20111011201326&sec=lifefocus
Remember, you can make a difference too!
Much has happened since we first posted our project in June. Here, we include WAO’s statistics on our services from January till June 2011.
Shelter: 52 women and 68 children Telephone counseling: 639 calls Face-to-face counseling: 57 sessions with women Email enquiries: 152 emails
Most of the women sought help because they were affected by domestic violence, followed by cases related to the abuse of migrant domestic workers, single pregnant woman (which is still a social taboo and a crime for Muslim women as sex out of wedlock is punishable under Muslim Law in Malaysia ) and rape.
In August, WAO received information of a Cambodian domestic worker who was abused by a family of three. She worked 17 hours a day and has been with the family since May 2010. A social worker from WAO together with the police came to her rescue instantly. Read more: http://www.mmail.com.my/content/79749-mad-17hour-shift
WAO employs full-time social workers to provide telephone and face-to-face counseling to women, accompany abused women to court, hospital and police station and also to organize women and children’s empowerment programmes.
Still on the issues concerning domestic workers, WAO wrote to the press on respecting and protecting their rights. Unfortunately for Indonesian domestic worker, Isti Komariyah, she was unable to seek help. Read about it here: http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2011/6/13/focus/8889260&sec=focus
Lately, WAO also experienced a challenging situation whereby a perpetrator on a search for his wife trespassed on all three properties: the Refuge, Child Care Centre and WAO centre hence compromising the security of staff, women and children. Fortunately, staff were quick to inform the police and they responded by sending patrol cars. Immediately after the incidents, WAO took an extra step in security solution by investing in a CCTV system to ensure everyone’s safety.
If you are keen to know more about WAO, go to facebook.com/wao.malaysia and read press statements and articles under the Notes section, updates on events, news of gender issues locally and internationally and check out photos from past events. It also acts as a platform for WAO to interact with the community so do send us messages or get yourself involved in discussions with our friends and WAO.
You can also start by reading our newsletter!
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