THE Penang government takes any form of domestic violence seriously, especially against women and children, as it recorded 356 cases from March 18, 2020 to March 15, 2021.
State executive councillor Chong Eng, who is in charge of Non-Islamic Religious Affairs and Social Development, said the state was determined to build a safe ecosystem for all families in Penang through the implementation of the Safe Family Policy which was introduced in July last year.
“The primary role of my portfolio is to nurture resilient people, strong families and a caring society, in line with the Penang2030 vision,” Chong Eng (PH – Padang Lalang) said during the Engagement Session between the state executive councillors and assemblymen at St Giles The Wembley Hotel in George Town today.
“Based on police records, there were 356 cases of domestic violence reported in the state of Penang during the movement control order from March 18, 2020 to March 15, 2021.
“According to a report from the Ministry of Women, Family & Community Development, only 10 per cent of domestic violence cases were reported last year. So, we believe that out of one case reported, there are five to 10 cases that go unreported.”
Chong Eng said under the Safe Family Policy, they have created First Support Points to help provide immediate assistance to victims of domestic violence.
First Support Point, she added, is responsible for referring cases reported to the relevant agencies, namely the police, the Social Welfare Department, and the Penang Hospital to assist the victims.
To date, three workshops had been held for officials from the district and land offices, local authorities, state assemblymen’s service centres and non-governmental organisations (NGOs).
Currently, 126 officers have been certified as First Support Point officers and 29 state assemblymen service centres as well as eight NGOs in Penang have been recognised as First Support Points.
She thanked NGOs such as Women’s Centre for Change (WCC) and Sneham Malaysia for actively raising awareness of domestic violence as well as providing assistance to the victims.
Chong Eng also praised several religious organisations and NGOs for agreeing to establish First Support Point.
For the younger generation, she said the Penang Women’s Development Corporation (PWDC) is discussing with the religious bodies on premarital course relating to building a happy home free from domestic violence.
She said the victims of domestic violence are not necessarily women only because the 2019 national statistics show that one in 20 victims are men.
Apart from Safe Family Policy, Chong Eng said the state government had also implemented the Gender Inclusive Policy in 2019 to advocate the gender balance at the decision-making level in all state government departments and agencies.
The concept calls for a ratio of 40% men, 40% women and 20% open to qualified men and women.
The Penang state exco, she said, had also approved the Top-Up Women Only Additional Seats for Women (TWOAS) in principle to ensure a 30% female representation at the State Legislative Assembly level.
To foster harmony and unity among the people of Penang, Chong Eng said the state government has taken the initiative to form the Penang Harmony Corporation Sdn Bhd or Harmonico.
“The vision of the establishment of Harmonico is to instil universal values and spiritual understanding amongst different faiths as a foundation to an inclusive and harmonious society,” she said.
Story by K.H. Ong
Pix by Darwina Mohd Daud