The whole pandemic the past two years has indelibly left its mark in all our lives. It has changed industries and upended global economies; friends became estranged when the human connection was lost. Inevitably, this hastened the rise in cases of family violence.
In recent statistics released by Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF), the number of child abuse cases investigated by the authorities last year hit its highest in a decade. Of 2,141 cases investigated, 42% were for neglect, 37% were of physical abuse while 21% consisted of sexual abuse.
Representatives of the Jurong Family Violence Working Group, chaired by Mdm Zaharah Ariff, Executive Director of Casa Raudha, including Chairman of Assyakirin Mosque, and MSF representative paid a visit to Jurong Christian Church (JCC), Tamil Methodist Church, and New Life Baptist Church during Ramadan. One of the issues they discussed was about family violence, which MSF reportedly saw an increase during the 2020 Covid-19 circuit breaker period and into 2021.
Mdm Zaharah said, “We need your collaboration because these matters do not remain private affairs—they eventually become societal issues.”
“Religion plays a big part in family cohesion. We want to empower our community by educating our congregants on how to safely respond to neighbours, friends and even our own family members whom they suspect are facing abuse.” Zaharah affirmed, “When we stop child abuse, we stop the inter-generational cycle of abuse.”
Children are dubbed our future leaders, and teachers are advocates who are essential to identifying signs of abuse. Mdm Samantha Chin, teacher at David & Goliath Preschool, said that a child usually mimics the behavior of his parents and acts it out on his peers. “What he is subject to, he may subject others to as well.” She added, “With abuse victims, you can observe a pattern and certain signs because it is long-term and usually not a one-time incident.”
Certain abuse cases, however, don’t get reported by the victim or family. Here’s how we can respond to situations where we suspect family and domestic violence may be involved.
If you hear loud screaming, crying or call for help from your neighbour’s house, go over to their house.
Knock on the door or ring the bell.
If someone does or doesn’t answer, ask if everything is alright and offer help.
Call the police if you sense an emergency.
For more info, you may refer to www.casaraudha.org or contact the National Anti-Violence and Sexual Harassment (NAVH) hotline at 1800-777 0000.