The Shelter Needs of Domestic Violence Survivors and the Availability and Accessbility of Shelters and Related Services in Selangor and Kuala Lumpur
Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO) opened the first shelter for domestic violence survivors in Malaysia in 1982. Subsequently, in 1989, it conducted the first national survey on domestic violence which estimated that 36% (1.8 million) of women over the age of 15 were abused by their partners.1 Almost three decades and the passing of the Domestic Violence Act 1994 (DVA) later, domestic violence is still an extremely prevalent problem in Malaysia. In 2017, another study done by Women’s Development Centre (KANITA), Universiti Sains Malaysia, found that 5% of females have undergone physical abuse, while 7.8% and 1.7% have been subjected to emotional and sexual abuse respectively (n=2640). According to the Ministry of Home Affairs, 1220 domestic violence related cases were charged in court from January to July 2017, and a total of 3201 cases in 2016. In comparison, a total of 5513 cases of domestic violence were reported to the Royal Malaysia Police in 2017, and 5796 in 2016. A disproportionate number of victims are women and children.
Domestic violence remains an under-reported and under-researched social issue in Malaysia.2 The two biggest studies were done by Women’s Development Research Centre (KANITA), USM, in 2013 involving 3215 women, as well as the study done by WAO in 2000 involving 1221 respondents nationwide. Both these studies were prevalence studies. Other studies done were much smaller studies involving specific focus groups,3 a study on the feasibility of a screening tool for Violence Against Women (VAW),4 and the primary health care system man- agement of VAW.5
There are currently no large-scale studies conducted at a national level on the accessibility and the availability of shelters for domestic violence survivors. In 2017, WAO conducted research on strengthening the accessibility and effectiveness of shelters for DV survivors. Among barri- ers identified
by the study were limited accessibility to shelters for survivors, and that the effectiveness of shelters is hindered for survivors because of the limited availability of domestic violence-spe- cific services.