ICMC launches audio tool to raise awareness about gender-based violence in Malaysia
Kuala Lumpur, 29 January 2016 - On 15 January, ICMC Malaysia presented to local partners and to UNHCR’s staff a new audio tool in a MP3 format which aims to improve the reach of awareness-raising activities among the local Rohingya refugees.
According to UNHCR’s figures, there are over 50,000 Rohingyas in Malaysia. This Muslim minority from Burma constitutes a third of the country’s refugee population, although many more could be among the 45,000 unregistered refugees and asylum seekers in the country. Around 80% of all Rohingyas struggle with high levels of illiteracy, which is even more common for women. As the large majority of these refugees only speaks the Rohingya language, they face communications barriers which prevent them from benefitting from assistance and available services or from interacting with the local population. They also experience difficulties in participating in the workshops through which ICMC disseminates information and training on the risks of gender-based violence (GBV) in Kuala Lumpur, the Klang Valley and Penang.
Following a community-based approach, ICMC trains the volunteers of the Refugee Women's Protection Corps (RWPC) – themselves refugees who found shelter in Malaysia – so that they are able to provide peer counseling, support, and interpretation services to refugee survivors of GBV, as well as to conduct awareness-raising activities within their own refugee communities. The RWPC volunteers are thus able to better approach fellow community members who suffered or are particularly at risk of suffering from GBV. In turn, the other refugees become less reluctant to come forward and seek help or advice. Nevertheless, not being able to take notes or read informative brochures, many Rohingyas have a harder time retaining the information received during the awareness-raising sessions and using that knowledge when in need.
The new audio tool aims to increase the reach of GBV awareness raising among Rohingya women and families, regardless of their literacy level. Thanks to the help of three RWPC volunteers, who offered their interpretation services, the relevant information concerning GBV was translated in the Rohingya language and recorded in a digital format. Saved in a small MP3 player, the audio file is to be distributed to the refugees, who will be able to access the recording whenever desired.
The tool is currently being tested with the help of a group of Rohingya refugees who are taking part in English literacy classes, organized by ICMC through its mini grants project. Once refined, the audio file will be replicated on additional MP3 players and distributed on the occasion of outreach or house visits. In order to receive the tool, refugees are required to attend a 2-hours’ awareness-raising training in order to ensure understanding and further discuss means to receive assistance and support. ICMC is considering the possibility to produce new audio tools recorded in different languages, so as to extend the reach of its awareness-raising activities to refugee groups other than the Rohingya and outside Malaysia.
Aside from awareness-raising, ICMC provides refugee victims of sexual and gender-based violence with safe emergency shelter, medical and psychosocial care, and counseling. In addition, ICMC’s mini grants funds local refugee organizations to carry out projects and activities aimed at preventing GBV.
You can find additional pictures of the launch event and of the audio file's recording sessions on ICMC's Flickr album.