The president of Wanita MCA, Heng Seai Kie, is wrong to advocate more violence to counteract domestic abuse.
At the MCA annual general meeting on 6 March, Heng said that it was important for both women and children to learn how to defend themselves, as they were often taken advantage of by criminals.
She said that Wanita MCA will organise a free online karate course to empower women, discourage domestic abuse and prevent crime.
This suggestion to equip women and children with martial arts skills has not been fully researched. The idea is dangerous and may give women and children a false sense of security.
(My sifu (7th Dan TKD) told our class that the best way to avoid violence is to WALK AWAY. You should too.)
Is Heng fully aware of the complexities and issues related to domestic abuse? Does she know the impact of domestic violence on the victim?
Has she been informed that domestic violence, which can be either physical or emotional abuse, does not respect social class, religion, culture, wealth or race.
The professional woman in a high-powered job in a multinational company could be a victim, as could a mother who lives in a low-cost housing on the outskirts of a city.
One does not have to be married, to be in a relationship which is marred by domestic violence. A boyfriend who is manipulative and controlling, could become violent if he thinks his girlfriend wants to leave the relationship or show interest in other friends.
In most cases, the perpetrator is male, but men, children and the elderly are also abused. The relationship is not just between heterosexual couples, as cases of domestic violence are also reported in same-sex relationships.
Heng encouraged women to participate in the karate course with enthusiasm and said that ‘a good wife does not have to hold on to the virtue of ‘not fighting back”.
She said, “If necessary, fight back with full force to deter perpetrators and help rein him in from the precipice and enable him to reform.”
Heng’s suggestion means that more burden is heaped on the victim to be responsible for defending herself from further abuse.
The victim already suffers trauma, anxiety, depression and mental health issues. Having been abused, she is probably in poor health from eating and sleeping disturbances. Some may want to self-harm or resort to substance abuse. Others may not be in the right frame of mind to undertake something physical like karate classes.
Has Heng wondered if the abuser will allow his victim to be equipped with self-defence skills? What if he hurts his victim with more ferocity? Or confiscates the wi-fi, laptop, or smartphone? This will leave her more isolated than before. The perpetrator will see the use of violence as an attempt to usurp his power and he will not take kindly to this show of force.
As for tackling crime, Heng is wrong to suggest that children and women deal with criminals on their own. Has she wondered how children and women, with or without karate skills, should deal with criminals armed with a gun or a machete? A dead hero is no hero.
In 2003, Canny Ong was kidnapped from a car park fitted with CCTVs, at the Bangsar Shopping Complex. The car-park staff and police were not vigilant and should have pursued her kidnapper when he rammed the car park barriers.
Ong was alleged to be a black-belt in taekwondo. After her abduction, she was raped, stabbed and her body burnt.
Perhaps, Wanita MCA should urge the PDRM to improve public safety and security. More police on the beat, more police patrols, in other words, an increased police presence.
Heng could urge fellow MPs to back a proposal to increase the sentences and fines for assault and theft, to act as deterrents
Most of the time, victims of domestic abuse are reliant on voluntary organisations and women’s groups to provide the necessary support systems.
Heng could encourage increased investment in counselling services for victims of domestic violence, shelters for abused women, as well as education in schools, and greater awareness in government departments like the ministries of Welfare and Women, Community & Family Development, Health and Housing.
Some communities are reluctant to report cases of domestic abuse and the perpetrator is emboldened by the lack of action from the authorities.
Perhaps, MCA should urge the government to make the crime of domestic violence as unacceptable as drink driving, with a hefty jail term and a very severe fine.
Finally, Heng should stop belittling victims of domestic violence by saying, “A wife may have earlier fought (the husband) during the daytime or evening, but at night, when they turn in to the bedroom, there usually is a happy ending.”
Marital rape is never a happy ending.