Covid-19 outbreak, the unsparingly infectious disease affecting the young and old alike across the globe has led the World Health Organization (WHO) to declare it as a global pandemic. Nations are gradually imposing a nationwide lockdown as an attempt to prevent the spread of the virus.
Various terms were adopted by respective governments with the most common being a “Lockdown”; our southern neighbor phrased it as a “Circuit-Breaker”; and us a “Movement Control Order” (MCO). In essence, it is the phrase that many world leaders including our very own are currently urging their citizens to abide in, which is the order to – “Stay at Home.”
The MCO would inevitably result in family members spending concentrated periods of time with one another. Healthy families would utilize such time to build closeness and strengthen family bond. However negative news are constantly surrounding us during these testing times such as the risk of contracting the virus, panic buying, economic uncertainty, potential unemployment etc. all within just a phone-scroll away. The above accompanied with prolonged periods of living together in a confined space may result with stress and anxiety which may lead to disagreements, heated arguments, bickering and to a certain extent, violence against their loved-ones especially towards their spouse whom they had vowed to love and cared for when they tie the knot. When facing with strife and conflict, although family members are encourage to communicate with each other and to calm themselves down, the situation may not be that simple especially when violence ensues.
The common misconception about domestic violence is that it is confined only to physical abuse. However in Malaysia with many other countries alike, defines domestic violence to include physical, sexual, mental, emotional, substance and even economical abuse. Therefore victims of domestic abuse although statistically predominantly being women, it indiscriminately applies to the male gender and also children alike. Despite the subject of this article being a social stigma to many out of the fear of being viewed negatively, our nation recognized it as a going concern and provides victims with refuge in the form of an alternative residence or safe place and especially with a protection order. There are currently three types of protection order available in Malaysia, being Emergency Protection Order (EMO), Interim Protection Order (IPO) and Protection Order (PO).
Emergency Protection Order (EPO)
Victims may contact the social welfare department (JKM) for an Emergency Protection Order at the nearest JKM office or contact them at 15999, a toll-free service. The effect of an EMO may contain the following order which is valid for 7 days:-
- Prohibits the perpetrator from committing domestic violence against the victim;
- Prohibits the perpetrator to incite others from committing domestic violence against the victim;
- Prohibits the perpetrator from entering the survivor’s safe place, shelter, place of residence, shared residence or alternative residence.
Interim Protection Order (IPO)
Victims may then request for an IPO from the police officer when lodging a police report against the perpetrator. The effect of an IPO may contain one or more of the following order:-
- Prohibits the perpetrator from committing domestic violence against the victim and/or inciting others to do so;
- the granting the survivor exclusive occupation of the shared residence by excluding the perpetrator from the shared residence, regardless of whether the shared residence is solely owned or leased by the perpetrator or jointly owned or leased by the survivor and perpetrator;
- prohibiting or restraining the perpetrator from―
i) entering the survivor’s safe place, shelter, place of residence or shared residence or alternative residence;
ii) entering the survivor’s place of employment or school;
iii) entering any other institution where the survivor is placed;
iv) going near the survivor at a distance of at least fifty metres or at a distance the court thinks reasonable; or
v) making personal contact with the survivor other than in the presence of a police officer or social welfare officer or such other person as specified in the order;
- requiring the perpetrator to permit the survivor to enter the shared residence, or to enter the residence of the perpetrator, accompanied by a police officer or social welfare officer for the purpose of collecting the survivor’s personal belongings;
- requiring the perpetrator to avoid making communication by any means with the survivor and specifying the limited circumstances in which such communication is permitted;
- requiring the perpetrator to permit the survivor to have the continued use of a vehicle which has previously been ordinarily used by survivor; and
- the giving of any such direction as is necessary and incidental for the proper carrying into effect of any IPO or PO.
As soon as the police officer informs you that the perpetrator has been charged in court, you would have to then apply for a PO.
Protection Order (PO)
A PO may contain the same order as an IPO above and is valid for a year (and may be renewed for another year) until the conclusion of a trial.
Recent studies abroad shows that there is a correlation between the lockdown and a spike in domestic violence cases, and there is nothing to suggest that our nation would be immune to such predicament. Thus, this article serves to promote awareness on the matter. Be safe… from the virus and violence.