Having joined Buddies since 2004, I’ve been handling HIV cases, particularly the women. Their problems mainly would include stigma & discrimination (because of their HIV), financial, children’s wellbeing etc. If you refer to me cases involving pregnant PLHIVs, wed or unwed, basically I know what to do. If you refer to me cases of PLHIVs who are single mothers with school-going children needing financial help, I have the CEF or Sponsorship programme, of which I am the coordinator myself. If you have PLHIVs needing emotional support, I am ready to lend my ears to listen to them.
But when Shidah’s case was referred to me, her main problem wasn’t HIV, but domestic violence. Now THAT I have not personally handled before. I didn’t want to end up doing things without taking into consideration all the loopholes which may backfire. That’s where networking helps. Luckily I have good rapport with a friend from Perak Women for Women (PWW) who handles a lot of such cases.
When I highlighted this case in my FB status, one of my FB friends, a male, commented, “Just make an official police report, tell the truth and let the PDRM carry out their investigation from there onwards !. If the husband over react again, he will land himself in the jailhouse where he belongs. Bullies should be taught a hard lesson.”
Ahhh… he made it sound so simple. How I wish it was that easy.
While I did offer to accompany Shidah to lodge a police report earlier, when she herself didn’t dare do so, I did not push her further. I couldn’t guarantee her that she wouldn’t be sent home and end up being beaten even worse by the husband. At least if the PWW reps were around, they’d know what to do or say to make sure Shidah would be sent direct to a shelter home, pending further actions to be taken. No doubt after the report is made, should the husband beat her up again, the police can always reprimand him and he’d end up in jail. BUT Shidah may by then be handicapped, or even dead. I wouldn’t want that to happen.
There was a particular case when a woman, beaten up by her husband, ran away barefooted, at night, to the police station. While on the way, she managed to call a lady from PWW and so 2 PWW reps went to help her as well and accompanied her to the police station. They wanted to wait until the JKM people turned up to take her to a shelter home, but the police on duty told them to go off as they’d be handling the case from then on since a report had already been made.
Turned out, after taking all her statements, the police took her in their car and sent her HOME where her husband was. They then warned the husband not to beat her up again. Needless to say, as soon as the policemen were gone, the lady got beaten up even worse. She ended up climbing the fence later the same night, this time no longer to the police station, for fear she may be sent back home again.
Another lady went to lodge a police report, and one insensitive policeman made a joke out of it, saying out loud, “Awak tak bagi dia apa dia nak malam tadi, tu pasal dia pukul!”
So yeah, I guess sometimes luck plays a role too. Police are humans too… there are good ones, there are bad ones. There are sensitive ones, there are insensitive ones. Hopefully the police on duty when they make that report would be someone more sensitive and has some sympathy and empathy.
There were also cases where the women themselves are at fault for “allowing” themselves to be beaten up by their husbands. Allowing themselves to be beaten? Well, you see, whenever they got beaten up, they’d seek help from PWW. Then when the husband coaxed them, appealing to them not to leave, sweet-talking them into believing that the husbands would change, the women would actually FALL for it!!
There was a case of a woman, who was actually tortured by her husband (her husband tied her hands and then beat her up, including her private parts), sought help from PWW. A PWW volunteer risked herself by fetching her and sent her to a safe place. Turned out the husband had some “underground” connection and the volunteers kept getting calls to tell them to keep off the case. Worse, after all the drama, the woman, the so-called victim, actually agreed to go back to her husband!! Duh! In the end it looked as though the volunteers were the ones who influenced her to run away from home.
Then there was another case, a lady, working and earning more than her husband. No worries about any financial problems should she choose to be divorced. And so she finally decided to file for divorce. She was advised to report the case to a tribunal, which she did, and then when she went home, she told the husband about it. Apa lagi… kena pukul la… kaw punya!
When she threatened to report the matter to the police, the husband went down on his knees, begging her not to report the matter, and then promised her he’d change. She finally decided not to report. She didn’t have to heart to see her husband suffer. YENNADEY!!!!
Which reminds me of Liza, Baby So’od’s mother. When her case was first referred to me, she was separated from her husband but not divorced yet. She was however, determined to file for divorce once she gave birth. She had already given her husband a second chance and so she was determined to lead her own life with her children without her husband. Or so she said.
When she was in the shelter home during her confinement, her husband called her and coaxed her to go back to him. He told her the shelter home was not a conducive place for the children to grow up. He promised her he’d change… for her sake… for the children’s sake.'
And guess what? SHE BELIEVED HIM!! And recently, her mother called me up asking if I could arrange for Liza to go to a shelter home as her husband had started beating her up again.
Aduh… I think STUPID is too mild a word to describe these women. I guess it’s their life… so it’s their choice. As long as they don’t bother me every time they get into trouble, that is…
So in Shidah’s case, I have been advised that to safeguard my own interest, should Shidah suddenly call seeking immediate help, asking to fetch her at home, I should report to the police first (and inform PWW so they could send somebody over to help as well) and then go with the police to her home. And should Shidah seek help only during her next hospital appointment, I have to make sure she herself agrees to make a police report. The decision should be hers, not mine. In Shidah’s case, what she really wants to do is to just run away and go back to her country without having to make any police reports. But she can’t do that as she doesn’t have her passport with her. Like it or not, she needs to make that police report.
While I am willing to go through the trouble of arranging for the necessary help, I am not willing to get into trouble for helping her. Besides, who knows, she may be another of those gullible women who’d fall for their kaki pukul husbands’ sweet promises…