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KUALA LUMPUR: Demeaning or belittling your spouse will soon be a crime when the Government adds a clause on emotional violence to the Domestic Violence Act.
Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen said her ministry was working hard to speed up the amendment and hoped to get it through Parliament by the third quarter of the year.
“Emotional violence is when you make him or her so scared that the person’s life patterns go haywire,” she told a press conference at her ministry here yesterday.
Dr Ng said it became a threat to the person’s self esteem, especially when the insults or threats were hurled on purpose and repeatedly.
“It is when you belittle your spouse, when you cow your wife or threaten her safety. There is no physical violence, but the spouse is affected,” she said.
Because there were no physical wounds or marks on the body, Dr Ng said having a psychologist analyse the victim would be key to proving that emotional violence took place.
“Loved ones can also testify, by telling us if the victim is always scared, or if she can’t sleep,” she said.
With the economy expected to be hit hard, Dr Ng said she expected domestic violence to rise due to the stress imposed on the family.
“So what is important is to have conflict management skills as well as negotiation skills,” she said.
She added that the number of people who attended family counselling in Britain last year had doubled.
She said the number of domestic violence cases reported in Malaysia had been rising, with 3,093 cases in 2005, 3,264 (2006), 3,756 (2007) and 3,445 (as at November 2008).
“Whatever the figures are, they are alarming. I do not see the figures being representative but rather the tip of the iceberg,” she said.
About 90% of the victims were women but Dr Ng said the ratio could change with the inclusion of emotional violence in the Act.
“In the interest of family dynamics and safety, no one should be beaten up. Violence begets violence, and the circle continues,” she said.
On March 8, the world celebrates International Women’s Day, and a seminar themed “Working together to end violence against women” would be held at Legend Hotel here.
“Both genders must come together to end violence against women and this will invariably reduce violence in society” she said.
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