Following a recent series of videos addressing the harm caused by child marriage and gender stereotypes, ICMC Malaysia continues to respond to COVID-19 by reaching out to vulnerable refugees online. Three new animated videos tackle topics usually covered by ICMC’s regular awareness-raising sessions such as child sexual abuse, sexual harassment and domestic violence.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to limit capacity to carry out house-to-house awareness-raising sessions, the International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC) is reaching the most vulnerable refugees and working to prevent sexual and gender-based violence through a series of awareness-raising videos.
The animated video series addresses topics discussed in the Refugee Protection Corps’ regular programming and uses online social media platforms such as Facebook and YouTube to target Rohingya refugees in Malaysia in their own homes.
Following the May 2020 release of two animations on child marriage and harmful roles and stereotypes related to gender, ICMC Malaysia has launched three new videos on child sexual abuse, sexual harassment and domestic violence.
The animation on child sexual abuse defines the term and outlines its negative impacts on children’s behavior and mental wellbeing. It explains the ways in which parents and other adults can protect children from sexual abuse, including making children aware that they can tell someone about something bad or confusing that has happened to them and teaching children about their rights. It also highlights the importance of recognizing signs of sexual abuse, such as sudden changes in children’s behavior and of being aware of children’s friends and activities in both daily and online life.
The next animation in the series looks at sexual harassment, which is any unwelcome or unwanted action of a sexual nature that affects someone’s dignity. The animation gives examples of verbal, visual and physical sexual harassment and emphasizes how sexual harassment can occur in a wide range of different places. It notes how unwelcome actions of a sexual nature are always considered sexual harassment as long as the recipient feels threatened or uncomfortable. It also advises victims to tell perpetrators to stop, record incidents and seek support from community leaders.
The third animation focuses on domestic violence, which is abuse from someone in the family carried out in order to maintain power and control of another family member. It highlights the five main types of domestic violence including physical, emotional and sexual abuse, cutting off the victim’s social connections with their friends and family and limiting or removing access to money in order to make them dependent. The animation notes how domestic violence is considered a serious crime in Malaysia. It also emphasizes how communication can stop the cycle of violence and create a more loving and stable family unit.
ICMC Malaysia has reorganized many of its regular services online because of the lockdown. Counseling services for refugees are now held remotely through teleconferences. Calls to ICMC helplines have increased, notably from refugees requesting emergency assistance in the forms of food or money, as many have lost their livelihoods during the lockdown.
Emergency assistance for survivors of gender-based violence is still available through ICMC’s partner, a shelter operated by the Sisters of the Good Shepherd (Global Shepherds Berhad). ICMC also continues to provide emergency cash assistance to needy refugee survivors of gender-based violence.
ICMC’s Malaysia-based awareness-raising activities, counseling services, emergency funding and emergency shelter placement for survivors of gender-based violence are supported by the US Department of States Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration.