Break the silence against domestic violence

Rizal Faisal

To raise awareness on domestic violence against women and children in Brunei Darussalam, a group of third-year medical students from Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD) organised a community project called ‘Break The Silence’ as part of their module.

Break The Silence is an initiative supported by UBD and the Community Development Department (JAPEM) and is sponsored by Yayasan Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah and Sharqiaa Hijab Brunei.

Break The Silence comprises Nur Hazirah binti Mohammad Moshtari, Dayangku Siti Khadeejah binti Pengiran Haji Mohd Yani, Dayangku Fatin Zafirah binti Pengiran Haji Ismail, Shahnezza Yulniqmah binti Haji Mohammad Shafri and Ahmad Shamil bin Haji Mohd Adnan.

The group has conducted several activities from talks, fundraisers to an empowerment class and a webinar.

Nazurah of JAPEM, Anis Ahmad from the Women and Child Abuse Investigation Unit of the Royal Brunei Police Force and Alinah from the Department of Psychiatry at the Ministry of Health spoke on domestic violence at the recently held webinar.

Break The Silence members hold a talk at the Teraja Longhouse. PHOTO: BREAK THE SILENCE

“Anyone who feels threatened due to domestic violence should get help from JAPEM, the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports by contacting their social welfare needs hotline at 141, the Royal Brunei Police Force hotline at 993 for the investigation of abuse cases and the ambulance hotline 991 for medical attention,” said Nur Hazirah in an interview with the Bulletin. “Domestic violence is aggression towards a person in a domestic setting, such as in marriage or cohabitation.”

She said domestic violence is also known as intimate partner violence, which is committed against a partner in an intimate relationship.

“Domestic violence also involves abuse against children, parents and the elderly and can be incurred physically, emotionally, sexually and financially,” Nur Hazirah said.

In Brunei Darussalam, she said 95 per cent of victims in reported domestic violence cases are women; eight out of 10 rape victims can identify the perpetrator; and one in every three rape cases are perpetrated by a family member or a close relative.

She said physical abuse involves hitting, pushing, slapping, pinching, biting and pulling of hair. Meanwhile, insulting, threatening, intimidating and verbal abuse are forms of emotional abuse. Sexual abuse includes rape, unwanted sexual behaviour, sexual harassment and outrage of modesty.

Financial constraint occurs when a victim’s ability to spend is being limited, money is stolen, forbidden to work or forced into a career choice and becomes dependant on the abuser. Nur Hazirah said the public has the right to be respected and feel safe and must know their rights, as domestic violence can happen to anyone.

“You are encouraged to speak up if you are experiencing domestic violence,” Nur Hazirah said.

Break The Silence also collaborated with Project Women Brunei to educate Teraja longhouse residents about domestic violence.

The group, through the sale of shirts, raised funds for domestic violence survivors who were driven out of their homes and struggled financially.

Last week, Break The Silence also organised a self-defence class with Khalifa MMA for women to prevent potential cases of abuse.

Recently, the group in collaboration with JAPEM presented donations to 10 families in the Brunei-Muara District. Donations comprising rice, laundry detergent and other necessities were presented to domestic violence survivors.