KUCHING: The Sarawak Women for Women Society (SWWS) has become the first recipient from the state to win an award from the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam).
SWWS received the award in the organisation category for its work in promoting and defending the rights of women and children in Sarawak, especially those who have been victims of violence and abuse.
It was one of eight winners in the Suhakam Human Rights Awards 2014, which were given out in Kuala Lumpur last month.
“We would like to express our appreciation to Suhakam for the award. It was a pleasant surprise to all of us,” SWWS president Margaret Bedus said during a courtesy call on Suhakam commis- sioner Francis Johen here yes- terday.
She said the award gave particular recognition to the society’s Empowering Rural Girls programme which was carried out from June 2009 to October 2010 in Baram in response to media reports of sexual abuse of Penan women in the area.
The programme aimed to equip rural women and girls with knowledge and skills on how to limit and handle sexually exploitative situations and develop a support network in order to lessen the risk of exploitation.
In addition, SWWS provides other services such as a drop-in centre, one-stop crisis centre, women’s crisis phoneline and keep safe kit project.
It also conducts public awareness programmes on sexual violence, sexual harassment, domestic violence, child sexual abuse, legal literacy for women, basic counselling, personal safety for schoolchildren and human trafficking.
Francis said the awards were introduced by Suhakam in 2011 to recognise individuals, organisations, media, government agencies and business entitites who have an excellent record in promoting human rights in Malaysia.
“It is one of the ways in which Suhakam promotes awareness of human rights. We want to get others involved in promoting human rights and incorporate it in their operations,” he said.
He added that Suhakam received 32 submissions for the awards this year.
“We hope more organisations from Sarawak will participate in the awards in the future,” he said.
Source: The Star Online