Abuse victims urged to speak up

National 2 minutes, 51 seconds


VICTIMS of domestic abuse should not stay silent against the violence committed against them and must ensure that their abusers rightfully face the legal consequences, said a syariah lawyer.

During a talk organised by the Brunei Council on Social Welfare (MKM), syariah lawyer from Yusof Halim & Partners, Mohd Shahray Zilkifli expressed concern over domestic abuse and said that the victims of such abuse remain silent leading them to endure the suffering for years.

“Victims (of abuse) should not let the abuse and violence to continue. They must report the abuse and violence committed against them so that the abuser or more precisely the criminal is punished according to existing laws,” he said.

The talk entitled, “Domestic abuse: According to the Islamic Family Law in Brunei” was the first among a series of talks that will be organised by MKM in collaboration with Yusof Halim & Partners to make the Bruneian public more aware about important legal issues.

Mohd Shahray said that the topic of abuse is still relevant to address as instances of domestic abuse are increasing because of unstable economic climate as well as the adverse effects on the abused person’s body as well as children.

According to a report, in 2014, the Royal Brunei Police Force (RBPF) reported 88 cases of domestic violence and a majority of the victims were women.

This showed decline, according to statistics provided by the Community Development Department (JAPEM) that reported 146 cases in 2011. However, the department believed that there were still more victims suffering abuse from their spouses.

He said that under the Islamic Family Law Order, it is not necessary for the women victims of the domestic violence to prove that they were abused many times as “once is enough” and if they suffer an injury; the court must dissolve such marriages.

During the talk, Mohd Shahray also highlighted the legal mechanisms that protect the victims of the abuse and how the court can issue an order to keep the abuser away from the victim. He also emphasised that the definition of abuse was not just confined or limited to physical abuse. Any kind of mental and psychological abuse also constitute domestic violence because any intentional act with a view to causing physical, mental and spiritual harm against a spouse comes under the definition of domestic violence.

Members of the public were also called to play their part in helping victims of domestic violence by reporting any instance of domestic violence to a government welfare officer or the RBPF as well as to provide a safe space for the victim if it is needed.

“These laws were put into place to protect all of us including victims of abuse. Spouses should always treat each other with respect and women should recognise the rights that they have and exercise them in order protect them from the cycle of abuse,” he said.

“We must take action immediately to prevent serious injuries and the loss of a life. We cannot wait for any tragedy to strike,” he added.

MKM will continue to organise legal talks such as this every month for the next year. The talks will discuss a range of legal topics and it will be held on every third Friday of a month.

Members of the public who are interested in attending the talks may check out its Facebook page for the date of the next legal talk.

The Brunei Times