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Seminar to raise awareness and reduce crime against women

A group of participants listening to a seminar hosted by SWWS
WAJA Seminar by SWWS, on 10th October 2015, at Kingwood Inn, Kuching

The Sarawak Women for Women Society (SWWS) conducted a seminar entitled Women against Crime “Seminar Wanita Anti Jenayah (WAJA)” on 10 October 2015, at Kingwood Inn, Kuching.

The one-day seminar “Women against Crime or Wanita Anti Jenayah” was held with the main objective of raising awareness among the public especially women on issues related to various forms of crimes against women particularly human trafficking, drug mules, internet scam and sexual violence. In addition, the seminar aimed to increase the knowledge among women who are exposed to the threat of becoming victims of above mentioned forms of crimes, teaching them how to take precautions from becoming victims of human trafficking and internet scam and tricked into being drug mules. Women are also urged to stand up against abuse and violence and report violence against them.

Speakers for the seminar are experts in the area of tackling human trafficking, narcotic crimes, cyber scams and bullying against women and sexual violence against women. The speakers are Inspector Zuriawati Bt Zainal Abidin from the Jabatan Siasatan Jenayah,  ASP Tumar Lunya from Jabatan Siasatan Jenayah Narkotik, Ibu Pejabat Polis, Kontinjen Sarawak,  Ms Gill Raja Senior Lecturer in Social Work, UNIMAS and Dr. Ling How Kee,  Associate Professor in Social Work and Social Policy, UNIMAS.

Participants at the seminar were updated the Malaysia Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act 2007 (amended in 2010), various forms of human trafficking and how to evade from being a victim of human trafficking. It was highlighted that Malaysia is a destination and, to a lesser extent, a source and transit country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labour and women and children subjected to sex trafficking. Malaysia is listed on the Tier 2 Watch List by the U.S Department of State (2015 Trafficking in Persons Report). Individuals looking for work outside the country are made aware of the importance of ensuring that the recruiting company are registered and allowed to do recruitment, read the work contract diligently, verify legitimacy of work offer with the consulates and relevant government departments, inform family members where they are going to work, how they could be contacted and where to seek help if they are being exploited by the recruiting agency and employers.

“Why are Malaysian women targeted and tricked by syndicates and/or boyfriends to be drug mules? How could sensible, level-headed women be conned by men they met on the internet? These queries are addressed by the speakers during the seminar. Participants were told how women could be “groomed and conned” on the internet. Women have to be cautious when publishing their personal particulars and making friends on the internet.

The final topic covered in the seminar was sexual violence against women. Sexual violence includes rape, attempted rape or any other sexual acts directed at a person by force; it can include coerced sexual activity and sexual assault through the use of physical force as well as sexual harassment and intimidation. While almost all of these forms of sexual violence are classified as crime in the Malaysian Penal Code, they remain very much underreported. The speaker highlighted that prevailing perception towards sexual violence deterred or delayed women and children to come forward to seek help, and much more community education and support programmes need to be developed to address issue of sexual violence and to assist women and children who are survivors of sexual violence.

In the press statement released by the seminar organising committee of SWWS, it was the Society’s earnest hope that seminar like this will help bring about greater awareness on the various types of crimes against women, to educate people about the nature of violence against women and children and for different quarters in society to develop strategies for change. Formed 30 years ago in 1985, SWWS objective is to assist women and stop violence against women. Over the past 30 years, SWWS have mobilised and offer services to those who have encountered violence, and have run various awareness raising programmes for women themselves and for the general public. On the issue of child rape, recently SWWS called for a prompt reform of the Penal Code to ensure the definition of rape was widened to cover penetration of the vagina by other parts of the body or objects other than the penis. This is to ensure children are effectively protected from all forms of sexual abuse and exploitation. Awareness in women and girls of the dangers of carrying drugs for people, whether in the country or in other countries also need to be raised.

The seminar, funded by the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development, received an overwhelming response. A total of 120 participants attended the seminar. Participants were from various non-governmental organisations and learning institutions. YB Dato’ Sri Rohani Abdul Karim, Minister of Women, Family and Community Development was the guest of honour at the closing ceremony. SWWS together with the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development Malaysia shall continuously work towards “Stopping Crime, Abuse and Violence against Women”.