Monday, July 13, 2009

Reported abuse cases just tip of iceberg:Expert

During our last cell meeting Brother Chiew was talking about child abuse. Here is a story from Borneo Post, 13.7.09

PETALING JAYA: Only one in 10 cases of child and maid abuse were reported because of the society’s apathy and bureaucratic red tapes, an expert said.

Universiti of Malaya Psychiatry Department head Prof Mohamad Hussain Habil said studies had shown that modern-day nucleus family system, where people gave priority to “privacy”, prevented them from mixing with their neighbours and enquiring if they suspected abuse.

“Even if they are certain that an abuse is being committed, they are reluctant to assist for fear of infringing on the privacy of their neighbours,” he said.

On top of that, he said, the relevant agencies that were supposed to keep tab of abuses were bogged down with bureaucratic red tapes which discouraged the people from reporting such cases.

For example, he said, it was found that police were too “obsessed” with recording reports of abuse but did not address the emotional needs of the victims.

“This does not help the situation because the people needing assistance should be given appropriate support and consideration rather than being subjected to long and lengthy interviews for the purpose of recording evidence,” Mohamad Hussain told Bernama.

In view of the increasing number of abuse cases, he said, there was an urgent need to train sufficient personnel to handle such cases.

For instance, in child abuse cases, he said it was important for the government to train teachers in identifying such cases among students and helping them go through the reporting process with least red tapes.

“Teachers can be gatekeepers to identify such cases early so that remedial action could be taken before it is too late,” he said.

As for maid abuse, it was essential to put in place a system where the maids themselves could acquire fast assistance with least hassles, Mohamad Hussain said.

He said the Human Resources Ministry’s proposal to provide maids with telephone numbers and addresses of labour officers was one such initiative.

On the mushrooming of old folks nursing home, Mohamad Hussain said it was “unfortunate that these homes were not administered by qualified personnel.”

He added that the Health Ministry had sought the inputs from various stakeholders in drawing up a mental health regulation which included the do’s and don’ts when setting up such homes and orphanages.

“However, it is unfortunate that it has been almost eight years now since the regulations were completed but they have yet to be sanctioned by the ministry,” said Mohamad Hussain who was one of the experts on the drafting committee.

He called on the ministry to expedite the implementation of the regulations so as to regulate orphanages and nursing homes which were gaining popularity especially in urban areas.

— Bernama

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