Domestic violence is everyone's business

·2-min read
Malay Mail
Malay Mail

JULY 6 — A man slashed his wife and infant son, then fled, naked on a motorcycle.

The bizarre horror of the incident aside, I found a certain detail in the reporting of the case disturbing.

A neighbour of the couple had seen the man dragging his wife out with a parang in hand.

Apparently said neighbour was only 14 so he can be forgiven for not intervening out of fear.

Yet, he said another reason why he fled the scene was that he "tidak mahu masuk campur" (didn't want to get involved).

In the same breath, he also expressed his shock that his neighbour would hurt his kid.

How awful is it that a literal child would see his neighbour brutalising his wife, knife in hand, and decide it wasn't any of his business?

Who taught him that? Why didn't he immediately speed off to the police station instead of, as he said, rush off to school instead?

It's a longstanding problem in Malaysia that domestic violence is not seen as a criminal act but a private affair.

Many domestic abuse victims share the same story, of the police being called to their home, and doing nothing... instead saying it is a personal matter and does not involve them.

Domestic violence isn't even rare — it's so prevalent that it might be time we take it seriously and address it not just societally but in schools. — AFP pic
Domestic violence isn't even rare — it's so prevalent that it might be time we take it seriously and address it not just societally but in schools. — AFP pic

Domestic violence isn't even rare — it's so prevalent that it might be time we take it seriously and address it not just societally but in schools. — AFP pic

That thinking isn't just prevalent in law enforcement but among many Malaysians.

All you have to do is go on Malaysian Twitter and whenever some woman brings up abuse or harassment, there will be someone defending the abuser.

Yesterday the weirdest response to a woman complaining about a man's disrespectful Instagram message to her was to not expose the man as he could "perform black magic."

Domestic violence isn't even rare — it's so prevalent that it might be time we take it seriously and address it not just societally but in schools.

It's a little ridiculous that women who dress immodestly by Malaysian standards — anything from not covering their head to a tight dress — will be harangued online signifying that what a woman wears is seen as a matter of public concern.

If someone had spoken up or the police had arrived earlier, maybe a mother and child wouldn't be found dead on their house porch.

Perhaps as a society we need to have better support systems as well as a better approach to the safety and well-being of our fellow citizens.

It is our business to care about each other and in all our best interests to understand the difference between respect for privacy and respect for human life.

*This is the personal opinion of the columnist.

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