Women’s group demands law against domestic violence

Monday, August 10, 2009
Issue 788, Page 2
Word count: 657
Published in: Macau Daily Times

By Poyi (Natalie) Leung

The Women’s General Association of Macau (AGMM) hoped to draw more attention and concern from society to domestic violence and urged the enactment of legislation to prevent and combat such kind of violent acts between family members.

The association yesterday held a forum “Women and Families” at the Macau Tower where six guest speakers delivered their own speech to the over 100 attendees.

AGMM vice chairwoman Chan Hong said in her speech that domestic violence was on a rise following the rapid transformation of Macau’s society and economy.

According to AGMM’s women shelter “Lai Yuen”, a total of 47 women were accepted in 2008 to receive a short-term residential service, while in the first half of this year 37 victims already moved in, representing a significant increase over the same period of 2008.

“These women [in ‘Lai Yuen’] just represented a very small amount of those who are facing abuse at home in Macau,” Ms Chan said.

Since Macau still has no specific legislation regarding domestic violence and perpetrators are not obliged to receive counselling, Ms Chan said the issue deserved more public attention and concern.

Hence, the AGMM vice chairwoman suggested to implement relevant legislation work as soon as possible, set up a family arbitration Centre to specially handle disputes related to women and families, as well as to increase shelters for providing psychological mediation services.

In addition, she said that the government should enhance cooperation with community organisations in order to track down and prevent “hidden” domestic violence, and also establish a support network for victims.

As statistics signalled that Macau was entering an aging society, and single-parent families or families with disabled members were on an increase, Ms Chan said women’s responsibility to take care of housework and other family members had been intensified.

Hence, she said the main way to enhance the quality of women’s family life was to ease their burden at home.

Ms Chan in her speech proposed that the government should encourage social welfare associations to launch elderly care services and study the establishment of elderly homes in the mainland.

For those who take care of elderly family members, she also suggested to provide them with a certain amount of subsidies.

Meanwhile, the AGMM vice chairwoman said there were still 7.7 percent of local women who earned less than 3,000 patacas per month, and they were facing pressure mostly from financial situation, work and household expenditure.

“The government and society have to pay special attention to low-income women and also pay efforts to improve their living standards through vocational training, free body checks and financial aid,” Ms Chan said.

“We also want to push forward the launch of the ‘double tier’ social security system, and as such housewives should be covered, she added.

Ms Chan at the same time pointed out the insufficiency of women’s health care doctors and facilities in Macau, and the low tendency of low-income women to undergo regular body examinations.

Therefore, she deemed that the government was required to put in more resources in order to increase the number of gynaecological medical personnel and raise their nursing levels, as well as to increase local women’s health awareness.

On the other hand, AGMM president Ho Teng Iat said in her opening speech that “to assist women improving living conditions and solving personal problems are fundamental to foster harmony in a family”.

“Families are a basic component of a society and are closely related to social development. A harmonious family relationship help a person integrate into a community better and establish positive life values and goals, and eventually contribute to the growth of society,” Ms Ho said.

“In a modern city, women are usually central to maintaining family relationships and also an important force to participate in the building of society across all sectors,” she added.

If women lacked a healthy life, Ms Ho said it would affect the construction of harmonious families and even a quality society.

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