“A black proton saga suddenly stopped a few meters away from me and two men came out. As I passed them they suddenly grabbed me and pushed me into the car. There were 3 other men inside. I was pinned down to the floor of the car and my blouse lifted up to cover my head, after they stuffed me with what I remembered were socks. I was frightened to death I couldn’t even utter a scream. I think it was 2-3 hours before the car stopped. After that time just seemed to stop. I was raped many times by how many of the men I was not sure. They did not hit me, but they were rough. I thought I was dead. Or going to be. They left me at the same street where I was picked up. Pushed me out of the car. It was raining heavily by then and I ran home straight into the shower. I think I showered hundreds of times. I couldn’t, wouldn’t get out of the house. I was too afraid. Three days later I went to the police and they sent me to the emergency department of the nearest hospital.”
This is a common scenario that the doctors at the emergency room face. Women who are victims of any form of abuse would present themselves days sometimes weeks later after the incident. And this is where the difficulty lies for us (doctors). We not only have to treat any physical injury, we play a role in getting the evidence. A shower would almost certainly wipe out any evidences on the body of the victims, what more several showers later. These unfortunate victims go through a multitude of feelings that made them delay coming in for help. Shame. Dirty. Fear. People will know. They look at me as if I have a brand over the forehead. The incident above happened to a foreigner who has been working in a Malaysia for 2 years. That she is a foreigner is also a deterrent for her to come and get help. How much do I have to pay?
Seventeen years of data and statistics provided by the Royal Malaysian Police and the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development shows that it is still a significant issue. In 1985 a campaign on anti-violence against women were organised by women’s organisations that led to the birth of the OSCC. The One Stop Crisis Centre combines the efforts of multiple agencies to help women, men and children who are victims of physical and sexual abuse and neglect. These agencies include the medical staff, Police force, NGOs, Social Welfare Services and legal aid services. The OSCC is housed in the Emergency department so as to offer services under one roof.
Multidiscipline medical staff work together while the victims are under treatment at the hospital. The departments involved include the emergency team, gynaecology, paediatrics, surgery (if it involves sodomy) and the forensics department.
The first OSCC was set up at the University Malaya medical Centre and after seven years another OSCC opened at the Hospital Kuala Lumpur Emergency department. Subsequently the Ministry of Health directed all state hospitals to open up OSCC and currently more than 100 centres are operational.
In the emergency department, there is a special dedicated area to examine the victims and to collect evidence. The examination room is usually secluded from the general clinical area of the department in order to give even more privacy for the victims as they would be usually in a state of fear and shame. There are protocols that have been developed to ensure appropriate and adequate examination and treatment of the victims.
Apart from medical treatment and collection of evidences, the OSCC is also responsible in providing counselling for the victims, offer legal assistance and taking the victims’ statements and accounts of the incident that befell them. If the victims are in need of shelter, the relevant bodies or NGOs are contacted to facilitate this need.
It is a massive, interconnected effort, yet delicate and difficult thus providers of the services usually have to undergo relevant courses and seminars to understand the process and to ensure that these victims are taken care of and represented not only to uphold justice, i.e. bring the perpetrators to the law, but also to ensure that the victims will be able to move forward and continue living.
Dr Aida Nur Sharini bt Mohd Shah
International Islamic University Malaysia
This article is published in conjunction with The International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women on 25th November 2017.
- Prof Dr Chew Keng Sheng (Emergency Physician, UNIMAS) – http://emergencymedic.blogspot.my/2010/09/some-notes-on-cases-seen-in-one-stop.html
- One stop crisis centre website – http://www.osccmy.org/