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Shelterless domestic violence survivors sleeping in cars during MCO: WAO

KUALA LUMPUR (April 14): A lack of shelters during the movement control order has forced some domestic violence survivors to resort to sleeping in their cars, said the Women's Aid Organisation, Malaysiakini reported today.

As such, the NGO urged the government to help provide victims with a safe haven, either in hotels or hostels, or by collaborating with the private sector.

"WAO runs the largest domestic violence shelter in Malaysia, but our shelter is currently at maximum capacity.

"Survivors have contacted WAO, asking for shelter, and we have been unable to place them anywhere.

"Some survivors have resorted to sleeping in their cars, only to be caught by the police," it said in a statement today.

Malaysiakini said the call for the government to provide more shelters to domestic violence survivors was one of six urgent matters WAO said the government needed to act on during the MCO.

Another urgent matter, the group said, was ensuring survivors can obtain court-issued interim protection orders, as court services are reduced during the order period.

According to Malaysiakini, the WAO said the government must also:

- Issue a standard operating procedure for responding to domestic violence during the MCO;

- Carry out more public service announcements about domestic violence;

- Deploy sufficient personnel and resources to ensure an effective response to domestic violence;

- Ensure financial aid reaches domestic violence survivors.

Malaysiakini said the WAO's statement was in response to Defence Ismail Sabri Yaakob urging domestic violence victims to call Talian Kasih, and ensuring that police and the Women, Family, and Community Development Ministry would respond.

The group said it welcomed Ismail's remarks.

Previously, Deputy Women, Family and Community Development Minister Siti Zailah Mohd Yusoff MCO might put stress on families, leading to domestic violence.

The ministry had also noted an increase in calls to Talian Kasih but stressed that not all calls were related to domestic violence.

The Malaysiakini report also quoted former women, family, and community development deputy minister Hannah Yeoh questioning the claim that there isn't an increase in domestic violence calls to Talian Kasih.

"They (the minister) have refuted allegations that there is an increase in domestic violence reports but fell short of providing detailed data to the public," she said in a statement.

She said a decreased in police reports over domestic violance may also be because the abuser is at home at all times during the MCO and that victims may have trouble contacting the police.

"Domestic violence goes beyond husband and wife relationships. It affects children too.

"Any effort to downplay its impact and severity continue to remind Malaysians just how inane and incompetent the current Perikatan Nasional women leadership is in Putrajaya," Yeoh added.

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