Domestic violence victims have the right to protection order

PETALING JAYA - Police, welfare officers and NGO representatives must inform victims of domestic violence of their right to an interim protection order (IPO), says the Women's Aid Organisation (WAO).

WAO executive director Ivy Josiah said that despite all the advocacy work done, victims still complained that the police tended to treat such cases as domestic issues and not give protection to them when police reports were made.

"Not all officers give information on the IPO," she said in a telephone interview yesterday.

On Wednesday, two footages of women being severely beaten up, one by her husband and the other by her ex-boyfriend, went viral on Facebook.

Josiah said the protocol on how the IPO was served should be changed, adding that the IPO should be served to the perpetrator in court.

"If the alleged perpetrator does not turn up in court, the court could subpoena for him to be arrested," she said, adding that the couple could then go through mandatory marriage counselling.

Currently, she said the IPO was served directly by hand or by post and no one would know if he had received it or understood its meaning.

She said the women's groups also wanted the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry to hold regular meetings to address domestic violence issues and carry out reviews on the Domestic Violence Act for it to be more effective.

Empower executive director Maria Chin Abdullah said the police should treat domestic violence as a criminal case and not just a domestic issue.

"They need to be sensitive to these issues and not just turn victims away," she said.

Maria said no one deserved to be beaten, regardless of the severity of the issues between couples such as extramarital affairs. "They should sort out their issues without resorting to violence."

Wanita Barisan Nasional chief Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil said she viewed domestic violence seriously and felt that the court should impose a heavy sentence to ensure that it did not become widespread.

"As a woman and wife, I regret to see the two victims being excessively beaten until it caused public anger, especially among women throughout the country," she said in a statement yesterday.