KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 20 — A lawyer said police must arrest violent individuals who are reported to have abused their families to avoid them from suffering like the now-murdered domestic abuse victim Nurhidayah A. Ghani.
Speaking after the High Court here today convicted Nurhidayah’s violent husband Jamaluddin Ali over her 2013 death arising from multiple assaults that left “horrendous injuries” over her body, lawyer Goh Siu Lin said the court ruling amounts to “justice” for the victim’s family.
“The case showed how important it was to enforce protection orders and interim protection orders — which are court orders typically given to stop a violent spouse from threatening or abusing a domestic abuse victim,” she said.
“So we should in this country lobby for mandatory arrest once a report is made by the victim or any of the family members, so the police must be compelled to take immediate steps to arrest the perpetrator.
“And so that we can ensure the enforcement of protection orders and interim protection orders are given paramount importance to promote the safety and reduce violence and prevent serious harm and death,” she said.
“In this case, the children are motherless and nothing can ever bring her back again and I hope that with the sacrifice of Nurhidayah, that legislation, enforcement authorities and all members of the judicial legal system play their role in protecting the rights of these victims and families,” she added.
Goh, who is Association of Women’s Lawyers president, was holding a joint watching brief for six other women groups, namely Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO), Women’s Centre for Change, All Women’s Action Society (Awam), Pusat Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor (Empower), Sisters in Islam (SIS) and Sabah Women’s Action Resources Group (Sawo).
Today, WAO noted that Nurhidayah was a victim of domestic abuse for over a decade before her death with her husband allegedly repeatedly banging her head against a wall and attempting to strangle her, saying that at least 10 police reports had been lodged against Jamaluddin during the 2009-2013 period.
“However, the authorities failed to intervene to protect Nurhidayah from her violent abuser. The authorities refused to arrest Jamaluddin despite the fact that he had violated the Interim Protection Order (IPO) and repeatedly harassed Nurhidayah and her family,” the women’s rights advocacy group said.
WAO said the surrounding community viewed domestic violence as personal family matter, citing Nurhidayah’s sister as saying that Nurhidayah’s neighbours had looked the other way when they heard her desperate pleas for help.
“We are saddened by the tragic end of Nurhidayah’s life, because her death could have been prevented,” WAO said, adding that she may still be alive today if both the authorities and her community had taken action.
Earlier today, before Jamaluddin was given the mandatory death sentence by hanging over Nurhidayah’s murder, her sister Umi Kalsom shared in court how her abrupt death had deeply affected their family.
Umi Kalsom said their mother suffered depression and cannot forget Nurhidayah’s bruise-covered body, while she regretted and blamed herself for not being able to save Nurhidayah from her death.
“Although Jamaluddin alone is responsible for the murder of Hidayah, I live with the psychological and emotional burden because of Jamaluddin’s crime,” she said, adding that the Bukit Jalil police had lacked the jurisdiction to act on their last police report of domestic violence to arrest Jamaluddin as the alleged incident had happened in Petaling Jaya.
Nurhidayah would in the past often return to her mother’s house after her husband hit her, but would then go back to Jamaluddin after he persuaded her to do so, she said.
Umi Kalsom said the death of Nurhidayah has had a huge impact on her four children who will have to grow up without a mother’s love and would negatively affect their emotional development, noting that the eldest child had, among other actions, stepped on the limbs of younger siblings.
“The children have seen their father killing their mother in front of their own eyes. As a result, they feel deep hatred towards their father. This feeling may affect their ability to have healthy relationships in the future,” she said, noting that one of the child does not want to get married in the future due to her mother’s fate.