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500 Malaysians Demand State Action For Survivors Of Sexual Violence At #HentikanRogol Walk

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By Citizens Against Rape

Photo Credit: Citizens Against Rape

Photo Credit: Citizens Against Rape

On June 7th, the Citizens Against Rape (CAR) organised a walk, themed #HentikanRogol, to protest against sexual violence following the Sibu rape acquittal.

The recent acquittal of a 60-year-old man who had impregnated a 15-year-old victim through the insertion of his semen-smeared finger is a clear, unquestionable case of injustice. It is even more regrettable that this case is far from an isolated one; throughout the years, we as a nation have witnessed numerous horrific, unresolved cases of sexual violence — Ang May Hong, Audrey Melissa George and Nurin Jazlin are just a few of the names imprinted in our collective memories.

In response to this, Citizens Against Rape, a coalition formed by numerous women’s rights and children’s rights NGOs, including All Women’s Action Society (AWAM), Voice of Children (VoC), Sisters in Islam (SIS), Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO), Malaysian Child Resource Institute (MCRI), Childline Malaysia, Association of Women Lawyers (AWL), SUARAM, Women’s Centre for Change Penang (WCC Penang), Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall Women’s Section and Wanita IKRAM, organised a walk from KL Sogo to KLCC to protest against statutory rape and the prevalence of rape culture.

Photo Credit: Citizens Against Rape

Photo Credit: Citizens Against Rape

The protest drew a crowd of 500-strong, turning the west entrance of KL Sogo into a sea of orange. The colour orange was specifically chosen to symbolise a bright future for Malaysian women and children, free from sexual violence. Armed with placards with slogans protesting rape, such as “My Dress is not a Yes” and “My Body is not your Property”, the crowd remained energetic throughout as they sang anti-rape chants.

The beginning of the walk also saw a few poignant speeches. Among them, a speech by a survivor of sexual violence highlighted not only the immense trauma she faced, but also the onerous process of going through the legal process post-assault. “Not once was I offered counselling or given contact numbers to any organisations that could’ve helped me… Not once was I told that it was not my fault, or asked if I was okay,” she said of the support system for survivors in Malaysia.

National poet laureate A. Samad Said was also present to recite a poem he had penned concerning injustice in Malaysia to thunderous applause. Speeches were also made by the President of Childline Malaysia, Datin P.H. Wong; the Executive Director of Sisters in Islam, Ratna Osman; and a member of MAN.V (Men’s Action Network Against Violence), Vernon Emuang.

The first half of the event culminated in a solemn ceremony where assigned representatives laid chrysanthemum flowers in honour of the victims of sexual violence.

Photo Credit: Citizens Against Rape

Photo Credit: Citizens Against Rape

In conjunction with the CAR walk in KL, a similar event was held in Kuching that same morning, where the Sarawak Women for Women Society held a symbolic gathering in Friendship Park.

A petition demanding for legislative changes to better address rape, including the expansion of the current legal definition of rape and to enhance the weight of children’s testimonies, alongside educational policies to address gender stereotypes, was also signed at the event. We urge members of the public to sign the petition here: https://goo.gl/GQo1e2

“Our laws , policies and programmes must be guided by principles of justice and substantive equality, to safeguard the rights of, and provide justice to, survivors and victims of rape. One concrete demand that women’s groups have been making, is to expand the legal definition of rape in the Penal Code” said Lee Wei San, the Assistant Programme Manager of AWAM and a member of the Organising Committee, “This is not something new that we are asking for. Women’s groups have been lobbying for this and other reforms for many years, and we will continue to do so.”

Photo Credit: Citizens Against Rape

Photo Credit: Citizens Against Rape

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Voice of the Children is a member of the Citizens Against Rape Working Group.

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