By Dr. Faiz Masnan and Prof. Madya Dr. Mohd Shahidan Shaari
Domestic violence is a widespread and profoundly distressing issue affecting millions of people worldwide. It impacts people across various social classes, genders, ethnicities, and education levels.
However, this problem is often swept under the rug in Malaysia due to cultural and social stigmas. Victims frequently endure their suffering in silence, fearing judgment and retaliation.
The prevalence of domestic violence is alarming, with many cases going unreported. According to the Royal Malaysia Police, domestic violence cases increased significantly from 5,620 in 2020 to 7,568 in 2021, with the highest number of cases reported in Selangor.
The root causes
As such, it is imperative to ascertain the root causes of domestic violence to nip it in the bud.
Factors such as traditional gender roles, financial strains, and cultural norms that tolerate or perpetuate violence within families contribute to this wrongdoing. Additionally, limited access to resources for victims, such as shelters and counselling services, can make it challenging for individuals to escape abusive situations.
In recent years, violence among children and teenagers has come to the fore and harms the immediate victims but has far-reaching consequences for society.
Violence encompasses various behaviours, from physical aggression and bullying to emotional abuse and cyberbullying. It is more common than we might like to admit, affecting children across age groups, socioeconomic backgrounds, and cultural settings.
Understanding the reasons for children’s engagement in violent behaviour is essential to tackling this issue effectively.
Several factors can contribute to violence among children, including exposure to violence at home, a lack of proper role models, peer pressure, and even the influence of media and video games that glorify aggression.
The consequences of domestic violence are devastating, affecting not only the immediate victims but also the broader society. Some immediate effects are physical injuries, emotional trauma, and even loss of life.
Those who witness and experience domestic violence may suffer long-term psychological scars, perpetuating a cycle of abuse across generations. Moreover, the economic impact cannot be underestimated, as survivors often face barriers to education and employment due to their experiences.
Addressing domestic violence
The Malaysian government and civil society organisations have recognised the urgency of addressing domestic violence.
In recent years, there have been significant strides in raising awareness and supporting survivors. Helplines and shelters have been established to offer assistance, and legal reforms have been implemented to strengthen protection for victims.
Education and community engagement programmes also challenge cultural norms perpetuating violence. Schools and parents play a crucial role in fostering a safe and supportive environment. This includes educating youngsters about empathy, conflict resolution, and respectful communication.
Domestic violence in Malaysia is a pressing issue that demands collective action. While progress has been made in acknowledging and addressing this crisis, much work still needs to be done to eliminate the root causes, reduce stigma, and provide comprehensive support to victims.
By continuing to shed light on this hidden epidemic and working together, Malaysians can build a society where domestic violence becomes an unfortunate chapter of the past rather than a painful reality of the present.
Dr. Faiz Masnan and Prof. Madya Dr. Mohd Shahidan Shaari are with the Faculty of Business and Communication, Universiti Malaysia Perlis (UniMAP), Kangar.