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Govt to set up committee to look into incidents of violence against women

14 Oct 2019 / 16:17 H.

PUTRAJAYA: The Women, Family and Community Development Ministry will set up a multi-stakeholder committee to look into issues of sexual harassment and domestic violence against women.

Its deputy minister, Hannah Yeoh (pix), said the panel would comprise the police, women leaders, assemblymen and MPs.

“We will meet periodically, not only at the ministry level but at state level as well,” she told a press conference after opening the National Women and Family Convention 2019 on behalf of minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail.

Yeoh said the objective was to collect accurate data and to discuss reported cases of domestic violence, sexual harassment and assaults in each district.

“We want to know the reality in each case, whether or not what is reported is consistent with what actually happens,” she added.

She pointed out that many women were afraid to come forward to lodge reports.

“We have heard of many cases, but there are no police reports. The victims are afraid that if their husband is arrested, it will cause financial problems,” Yeoh said.

She said that by collecting data, the committee could analyse the information gathered to organise awareness programmes in respective districts or states where such issues were a concern.

On another matter, Yeoh dismissed claims that women would abuse the provision to extend maternity leave from 60 days to 90 days.

“The talk is that women will keep having babies to take advantage of the longer maternity leave,” she said. “This is a myth.”

“Maternity leave is not for holidays or for fun. It’s exclusively for breastfeeding. Doctors encourage mothers to breastfeed their babies for at least six months,” she pointed out.

She said it was also crucial for babies to be constantly with their mothers in the first three months of their lives to keep them safe.

“There is a lower risk of the baby choking on milk if he is watched over by the mother compared with a babysitter,” she added.

Director of the National Population and Family Development Board Abdul Shukur Abdullah said it was worrying that the fertility rate in Malaysia was declining.

Ideally, he said, there should be at least four children in each family.

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