Breaking the silence: 16 days against gender-based violence in Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur, 27 November 2017 - An awareness-raising campaign focusing on human trafficking and gender-based violence in Malaysia invites people to join forces to eradicate these phenomena.

As part of the annual 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence global campaign, Good Shepherd Services, a faith-based charity in Malaysia, has published a series of stories and testimonies on human trafficking, a modern-day form of slavery.

Orange the World: Leave No One BehindSince 2008, the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence global campaign has been galvanizing attention and action to end violence against women and girls. The official campaign color is orange, which symbolizes a bright and optimistic future free from violence against women and girls. Photo: UN Women The 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence global campaign extends from 25 November (International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women) through 10 December (International Human Rights Day). This year’s theme is “Leave No One Behind: End Violence against Women and Girls.”

Entitled “16 days of Reflection for the Nation,” the Good Shepherd Services booklet has been published jointly with the Good Shepherd Services and the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism.

The booklet includes 16 short articles, one for each day of the campaign. From child brides to abused domestic workers, to exploited refugees, the testimonies gathered are poignant stories of violence, trauma and grief experienced by survivors.

The booklet also includes reflections by advocates as well as useful resources in the Malaysian context. It calls on readers to reflect and act to end violence against women and children in all forms and to raise awareness of this violation of human rights.

“Human trafficking — the recruitment, harboring and transportation of people solely for the purpose of exploitation — is a debasement of the human person,” writes Good Shepherd Services Executive Director Ms. Chin Poh Choo in the foreword to the booklet.

Human trafficking has its roots in the current global economy, adds Ms. Choo. “Structures and systems which increase the extreme poverty of the vulnerable, support patriarchal hierarchies and give priority to economic profit above the value of the human person render untold women and children vulnerable to being trafficked for labor and for sexual exploitation.”

Major forms of trafficking today include forced labor, sex trafficking, forced marriage, removal of organs and debt bondage. An estimated 21 million people are trafficked globally, of whom 71% are women and girls.

According to the 2016 Global Slavery Index, Malaysia ranks fifth in South East Asia for slavery prevalence with about two million undocumented migrants at risk of exploitation.

The Good Shepherd’s campaign includes a hard-hitting short public service announcement video about what victims of gender-based violence experience “Behind Closed Doors”. 

A partner of the International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC), the Good Shepherd Services has its origins as a charity founded and operated by the Good Shepherd Sisters in 1956. The Good Shepherd Sisters comprise a worldwide Catholic Order of women religious present in 73 counties on six continents.

Good Shepherd Services offer residential programs to women and girls who experience crisis situations, providing a haven and temporary shelter, so they may recover from their traumatic experiences. Outreach programs empower disadvantaged communities who have minimal access to human development, social awareness and leadership programs.

In Malaysia, ICMC provides refugees with safe shelter, medical and psychosocial care and counseling. The goal is to prevent and respond to sexual or gender-based violence, primarily by improving access to emergency support services for refugee women and children.

• Download the “16 Days of Reflection for the Nation” booklet.
• Watch Good Shepherd’s video “Behind Closed Doors” and help spread the message to break the silence on gender-based violence.