Cases reported

to the police






Domestic violence






Sexual harassment at the workplace
























Source: Royal Malaysian Police, Malaysia.

12. The report indicates that the Domestic Violence Act, 1994 protects victims of violence in the home but points out that marital rape is not considered a crime in Malaysia unless the parties are separated under a judicial decree, the wife has obtained an injunction against sexual relations with the husband or the woman is in her ‘iddah period. Please indicate if, and how, victims of marital rape are protected under the Domestic Violence Act.

Malaysia’s Penal Code and Syariah law do not contain a provision on marital rape. The Penal Code provides an exception to section 375 on the offence of rape which stipulates that sexual intercourse by a man with his own wife by a marriage which is valid under any written law for the time being in force, or is recognised in the Federation as valid, is not rape. Based on the explanation to section 375 of the Penal Code a man can be charged with raping his wife as in Initial Report.

The Domestic Violence Act 1994 provides protection for victims of domestic violence. Under the Act, domestic violence is defined as the commission of the following acts -

wilfully or knowingly placing, or attempting to place, the victim in fear of physical injury;

causing physical injury to the victim by such act which is known or ought to have been known would result in physical injury;

compelling the victim by force or threat to engage in any conduct or act, sexual or otherwise, from which the victim has a right to abstain;

d. confining or detaining the victim against the victim’s will; or

e. causing mischief or destruction or damage to property with intent to cause or knowing that it is likely to cause distress or annoyance to the victim.

Based on the above provision of the law, victims of marital rape are accorded protection under the Domestic Violence Act 1994 on the commission of any of the above mentioned acts. The protection under the Domestic Violence Act 1994 includes the issuance of an interim protection order pending investigations of the domestic violence offence. The interim protection order prohibits the person against whom the order is made from inflicting further violence on the victim.

Where it is necessary for the protection and personal safety of the victim, a protection order can include other orders such as:

(i) granting of the right of exclusive occupation to the victim of the shared residence or a specified part of the shared residence by excluding the person against whom the order is made from the shared residence or specified part thereof, regardless of whether the shared residence is solely owned or leased by the person against whom the order is made or jointly owned or leased by the parties;

(ii) prohibiting or restraining the person against whom the order is made from entering any of the victim’s place of residence or shared residence or alternative residence, as the case may be, or from entering any of the victim’s place of employment or school or other institution or from making personal contact with the victim other than in the presence of an enforcement officer or such other person as may be specified or described in the order;

(iii) requiring the person against whom the order is made to permit the victim to enter the shared residence, or to enter the residence of the person against whom the order is made, accompanied by any enforcement officer for the purpose of collecting the victim’s personal belongings;

(iv) requiring the person against whom the order is made to avoid making written or telephone communication with the victim and specifying the limited circumstances in which such communication is permitted.

Where the court is satisfied that the person against whom a protection order or interim protection order is made is likely to cause actual physical injury to the protected person or persons, the court may attach a power of arrest to such protection order or interim protection order. Contravention of a protection order is an offence and is punishable under the Act.

Apart from the above, the victim may also claim for compensation if the victim had suffered personal injuries or damage to property or financial loss as a result of the domestic violence.

From the social aspect, the Department of Social Welfare (DSW) is also addressing the issue of Domestic Violence by giving counselling services as well as establishing mediation services.

13. The Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, in her report E/CN.4/2003/75/ Add.1 of 27 February 2003 (para. 1079), indicates that the “abuse of foreign domestic workers, mostly women, is a growing problem in Malaysia . . [which] can take the form of beating, overworking, withholding the salary, malnourishment, and denial of contacts with the family.” Please indicate the actions taken to prevent such abuse and protect domestic workers, including measures being taken to address the underlying societal attitudes that perpetuate such abuse.

Foreign domestic workers are protected under the provisions of Part III (Payment of Wages) of the Employment Act 1955 (the Act). Any domestic worker, whose salary has been unfairly withheld by her employer, is entitled under the law to lodge a complaint to the nearest Department of Labour (DL) for action to be taken against the errant employer.

The Government of Malaysia, with the collaboration of the Government of the source countries (eg. the Government of Indonesia), is currently formulating a memorandum on recruitment of domestic workers. It is meant to provide social protection and enhance working environment mechanism for the domestic workers. There are more than 300,000 domestic workers in Malaysia. However, according to records, less than 1% of workers have lodged their complaints on abuse cases to the Ministry of Human Resources (MOHR) and other relevant authorities, notwithstanding the fact that their safety is protected under the Criminal Procedure Code.

14. The report indicates that the Ministry of Women and Family Development in consultation with the Ministry of Human Resources and other stakeholders is studying a proposal to formulate specific sexual harassment legislation. What is the status of this proposed legislation.

The provisions pertaining to sexual harassment will be included in the Employment Act 1955, Occupational Safety and Health Act 1994 and the Industrial Relations Act 1967 which is now under the purview of the Attorney General’s Chambers.

The Government has already incorporated provisions pertaining to sexual harassment at the work place in the General Orders – Guideline of Handling Sexual Harassment at the Work Place in the Public Sector in 2005. This guideline has further details pertaining to categories and type of sexual harassment, the effects and action to be taken to handle sexual harassment at work place as well as preventive actions.

Article 6

15. The Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, in her report E/CN.4/2005/72/Add.1 of 18 March 2005 (paras. 192-196, 240-244), draws attention to the trafficking of Indonesian women to Malaysia for sexual exploitation and for the purpose of selling their children for illegal adoptions. However, the report does not provide any information on the incidence of trafficking. Please provide data on the number of women and girls who are trafficked to, from and through Malaysia.

The Royal Malaysia Police and Immigration Department are the lead agencies in enforcing and monitoring offences relating to trafficking in persons. The two agencies have procedures and resources to combat this crime. These two agencies are assisted by other law enforcement agencies namely Department of Customs Malaysia, Anti Smuggling Unit and the Malaysia Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA).

There is no specific law in Malaysia relating to trafficking in persons. However, there are various provisions in existing laws to prosecute traffickers. The laws are as follows:

Legislation and Prosecution Measures

Federal Constitution – Article 6 (1) & 6 (2)

- Prohibition of slavery and forced labour;

Penal Code – section 370,371,372,373,374;

The Child Act 2001 – Section 48 (1), 48 (2), 49 & 52;

The Internal Security Act 1960 – this is a preventive law;

Restricted Residence Act 1933 – this is a preventive law;

The Anti-Money Laundering Act 2001 – confiscation of proceeds from illegal criminal activities including trafficking in persons; and

The Immigration Act 1959/63 (Amended 2002)- Section 56 (1)(d) provides for harbouring of illegal immigrants which is punishable by a fine not exceeding RM10,000 or imprisonment not exceeding 5 years.

The Government does not have any data on the numbers of women and girls being trafficked from Malaysia or through Malaysia to another country. However, the statistics on the numbers of arrested foreigners suspected to be involved in prostitution and action taken against syndicate of prostitutions are as shown in Annex V.

16. The report indicates that trafficking “is not specifically criminalized in Malaysia” but there are laws in the country that are used to combat trafficking in persons. Please indicate whether the Government is considering enacting specific legislation to combat trafficking and describe the measures taken to provide specialized training with regard to trafficking to members of the police and the judiciary.

The Ministry of Internal Security is currently in the process of establishing an Inter- Agency Committee on Trafficking in Persons. The establishment of specific laws on trafficking will be discussed by the Committee and there is a need to organise training for police personnel, Immigration officers, officers from the MWFCD and its agencies, as well as the judiciary on how to identify victims of trafficking.

17. The report indicates that the DSW is responsible for providing protection, rehabilitation and counselling to girls and women below 18 who have been involved in vice and prostitution”. Please provide information on the rehabilitative and protective measures in place for women and girls of all ages who are victims of trafficking for purposes of prostitution and other forms of sexual exploitation. Please also include a description of the effectiveness of these measures.

The DSW is responsible for providing protection and rehabilitation to girls below 18 years who have been involved in vice and prostitution. The victims are placed in various institutions under the Department which provide protection and rehabilitation programmes such as formal education, religious/moral education, vocational training and counselling. They are also encouraged to participate in sports, recreational and cultural activities.

In terms of rehabilitation programmes to women involved in prostitution and sexual exploitation, the DWD offers support and counselling services. It has 14 centres called ‘Rumah Nur’ all over the country which offer these services. The Department also implements preventive measures in order to raise community awareness in terms of gender equality and women’s rights.

Seminars on Reducing Violence against Women and Legal Literacy Programmes have been implemented in 219 parliamentary constitutions all over the country by Women and Family Development Councils. The objective is to increase knowledge and awareness on violence against women and the legal rights of women. In 2004, 15,485 participants benefited from the seminars and 30,799 participants attended the Legal Literacy Programmes.

Article 7

18. According to the report, in 2000, women’s representation was only 10.4 per cent in the lower house of Parliament and 5.5 percent in the various State Assemblies and, in 2001, only 3 out of 28 cabinet ministers were women. Please indicate whether this situation has improved and detail the specific programmes that are being implemented to increase women’s representation in public and political life.

Women’s representation in the Lower House of Parliament has slightly declined from 10.4 per cent in 1999, to 9.6 per cent in 2004 (1999 and 2004 were the general election years). In the State Legislative Assembly, women members have increased from 5.5 in 1999 to 6.3 per cent in 2004. Women ministers remained at 3 out of a total of 33 Cabinet Ministers in 2004. Women’s deputy ministers also remained at 3 out of 38 deputy ministers in the same period and 6 parliamentary secretaries are women out of a total of 22.

Although the percentage of women representation in the Lower House has declined, twelve out of 17 women (70.5 %) from the ruling party were given the posts either as minister, deputy minister or parliamentary secretary. This indicates greater recognition of women’s contribution in the political arena. To increase the participation of women in political life, one of the measures undertaken by the main political parties is to establish a new wing for young women.

Article 8

19. The report acknowledges that the number of Malaysian women working in international organisations is very low but states that this is due to “cultural constraints” and “to respect the sensitivities of host countries”. Please explain these statements and provide details of the measures the Government is taking to overcome obstacles to, and to encourage, women’s participation in the work of international organisations.

Table 8.3 indicates that the number of Malaysian women working in international organisations is low. This is due partly to their preference to work in the country as they could easily find employment and hold senior positions in the private and publics sectors in Malaysia. In addition, employment opportunities in the international organisations are limited. For the positions in international organisations where government is consulted, the relevant authorities in the country have made strenuous efforts to recommend and nominate qualified Malaysian women to fill in the positions. There are also a number of Malaysian women who had applied directly to work with international organisations without going through government’s channel and have been successful. These data need to be better captured as well. The Malaysian Government remains committed to encourage greater number of Malaysian women participation in international organisations. As such, international organisations including the United Nations and its agencies need to intensify their efforts to encourage and recruit Malaysian women to work for them.

Article 9

20. The report indicates that the citizenship law in Article 14 of the Federal Constitution is discriminatory in that while foreign-born children and foreign wives of Malaysian men can get Malaysian citizenship, the same is not true for foreign-born children (with foreign fathers) and foreign husbands of Malaysian women. Please indicate measures being taken to amend this law and indicate the time frame anticipated for such law reform.

The first issue raised in the Committee’s inquiry above relates to equal rights between men and women with respect to the nationality of their children. The relevant law relating to the issue is explained below.

Article 14 of the Federal Constitution provides for citizenship by operation of the law for:

every person born before Malaysia Day fulfilling the conditions as contained in Part I of the Second Schedule of the Federal Constitution; and

for every person born after Malaysia Day and having any of the qualifications specified in Part II of the Second Schedule of the Federal Constitution.

Part I and II of the Second Schedule to the Federal Constitution provides that a person born outside the Federation whose father is at the time of birth is a citizen is by operation of the law a citizen of Malaysia.

Notwithstanding the provision of Part I and II of the Second Schedule to the Federal Constitution, we wish to inform the Committee that the right of a woman with respect to the nationality of her children can be exercised by the provision under article 15(2) of the Federal Constitution.

Article 15(2) of the Federal Constitution provides that subject to article 18 of the Federal Constitution (on the requirement of taking an oath and restriction on a person who has renounced or has been deprived of a citizenship), the Federal Government may cause any person under the age of twenty-one years of whose parents one at least is (or was at death) a citizen to be registered as a citizen upon application made to the Federal Government by the person’s parent or guardian.

By virtue of this provision a woman can exercise her right to apply to the Federal Government for her children who are below the age of twenty one years old to be registered as a citizen of Malaysia.

The second issue raised by the Committee on the above inquiry relates to the rights of a foreign man married to a Malaysian woman to acquire Malaysian citizenship. Article 15(1) of the Federal Constitution provides that a foreign wife of a Malaysian man may be conferred citizenship upon making an application to the Government if the marriage is subsisting and the woman has resided in the Federation throughout the two years preceding the date of application and intends to do so permanently and is of good character.

With respect to a foreign man married to a Malaysian woman he can exercise his right to apply for Malaysian citizenship under article 19 of the Federal Constitution by naturalization.

Apart from the above, an administrative measure was also undertaken by the Government to assist Malaysian women who are married to foreign men. This is in the form of an administrative order (Pekeliling Imigresen Malaysia Bil. 29 tahun 2001) which allows foreign men married to Malaysian women to stay in the country for one year as opposed to 3 months previously and their social visit pass can be renewed on a year-to-year basis. Also, foreign women who are divorced or separated from their Malaysian husbands after settling in Malaysia can apply for a social visit pass on a year-to-year basis, subject to approval by the Government.

Article 10

21. The report highlights that the management and policymaking levels in the Ministry of Education and the State Education Departments are “extremely male dominated” and while the number of female teachers in schools significantly exceeds the number of male teachers, less than 30 percent of the heads of primary and secondary schools and less than 9 percent of the heads institutes of higher learning, are women. The report indicates that even where women are better qualified than men, they “face problems getting into top or key positions”. Please indicate the measures that are being taken to bridge the gap between women’s qualifications and their appointment to key management and policymaking positions in the education sector.

The criteria for promotions to high posts in the Ministry of Education (MOE), like any other Government departments, are many; including qualifications, seniority in service, and work performance. Gender is not a factor to be considered for promotions in the MOE. Generally, in the MOE, women are relatively junior in service compared to men, as explained in Para 196 and illustrated in Table 10.22 of the Initial Report. Compared to the situation in 2005, there has been an improvement in the female participation in the management and policy making levels in the MOE as shown in Annex VI.

Article 11

22. The report points out that the Government is “conducting a research with the aim to identify factors which caused a mismatch of academic qualifications and job opportunity in the labour market”. Please specify the results of this research and whether these have been used to make concrete policies to address the gap between women’s academic qualifications and their opportunities to participate in the labour market.

The study on the mismatch between academic qualifications and job opportunity in the labour market started in December 2004 and the study is expected to be completed in June 2006. The initial finding of the study indicated that although female graduates have better academic qualifications compared to males, the private sector employers preferred to hire male workers because employers perceived that male graduates have better ability to work independently. However, this preference does not exist in the public sector. The important criteria needed by employers both in the public and private sectors are the ability to work independently, communication skills and discipline.

23. According to the report, there are certain provisions in the Employment Act of 1955 for the “protection” of women, including provisions prohibiting women from working in any agricultural or industrial undertaking between 10 pm and 5 am or commencing work without having had a rest period of 11 consecutive hours, and provisions prohibiting women from carrying out underground work. The report indicates that “in a number of instances employers are reluctant to employ women on account of these provisions”. Please indicate whether the impact of these provisions on women’s employment has been evaluated, provide details of any such evaluation and plans to remedy their disadvantageous impact.

Under the proviso to the subsection 34(1) of the Act, the Director General (DG) of the Department of Labour may, on application made to him in any particular case, exempt in writing any female employee or class of female employees from any restriction from working in any agricultural or industrial undertaking between 10 pm and 5 am or commencing work without having had a rest period of 11 consecutive hours. It has been a practice of the DG to apply blanket approval on applications on shift work. However, there is no such exemption to allow women to be employed in any underground work under section 35 of the Act . However, the Minister of Human Resource is empowered by section 36 of the Act to make an order to permit the employment of female employees, notwithstanding the prohibition of the underground work under section 35 of the Act. To date there are no academic studies to evaluate the impact of such provisions.

Article 12

24. The report indicates that while there is “indirect and qualitative evidence to suggest that some groups of women, e.g. disabled, migrant, aboriginal or indigenous women and those living and working in estates and plantations are marginalized in terms of access to health services and facilities, no reliable data is available”. Please indicate the measures that have been taken to collect such data and provide access to healthcare for these groups of women.

Every individual in Malaysia has access to health care. Geographical access has been improved by building health facilities and providing essential health services in remote areas which includes flying doctor services and mobile clinics. Women from estates have access to health care especially for maternal and child health either at the health clinics or at mobile clinics. Data is captured at respective health facilities. Health care is also available for migrant workers at all health clinics and hospitals; however they are subjected to the ‘Fee Act for Foreigners’.

Health data for the aboriginal groups are collected by the Health Division of the Department of Orang Asli Affairs. Health services by the Ministry of Health are provided to those areas accessible by land whereas for areas accessible by air and river, the services are provided by the Department of Orang Asli Affairs. To further improve health care accessibility ‘Half way homes’ have been built for pregnant women who live in remote areas. The pregnant women together with their families are brought here so that there is easy access to the hospitals if complications should arise during delivery.

Health care services for persons with disabilities have been established by the Ministry of Health since 1995. Though initially it provided services for those until 18 years old, it is now being expanded to include adults as well. Occupational therapist and physiotherapists are being placed at certain health clinics to improve the accessibility of the rehabilitative services. Data collection for the disabled is currently captured by the Department of Social Welfare.

25. The report states that current HIV/AIDS prevention campaigns and strategies are inappropriate for women because they emphasize the importance of reducing sexual partners, fidelity in marriage and consistent condom use, whereas women are largely monogamous and are usually not in a position to ensure their husbands’ fidelity or insist on use of condoms. Please describe alternative, culturally sensitive HIV/AIDS prevention strategies targeted at women that are being considered or implemented. Also indicate whether certain groups of women are particularly at risk of contracting HIV/AIDS and whether prevention campaigns are targeted at such groups.

The number of HIV infection among women has increased from 9 cases (1.2%) in 1990 to 673 (10.0%) cases in 2003, while within the same period, AIDS cases have increased from none to 137 cases. The increase of HIV among women is more significant after 1998, upon the implementation of routine HIV screening among pregnant mothers through the ‘Prevention of Mother To Child Transmission’ (PMTCT) programme at public health clinics.

Based on the profile of women infected with HIV in 2003, the majority of the women were housewives (44.0%), followed by industrial workers (6.9%), prostitutes/GRO (4.7%), non-executive private sectors (4.7%), government servants (3.3%) and students (1.6%).

In the prevention and control of HIV/AIDS, the Ministry of Health together with various ministries and non-governmental organisations have developed several strategies for women such as:

Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission

In 1998, Malaysia initiated the Prevention of Mother to Child transmission programme (PMTCT). It is a screening programme for all pregnant mothers attending government antenatal clinics to be screened free for their HIV status. Pregnant women who are tested positive are provided with free anti-retroviral treatment during and after the pregnancy. All babies born or detected to be HIV positive later are also provided with free treatment. This programme has successfully reduced MTCT from 30% without treatment (WHO estimate) to 3.82%.

Screening of blood and products

Since the establishment of the screening programme in 1986 all blood and its products are screened for HIV.

Voluntary counselling and testing

Voluntary counselling and testing centers for HIV are widely available and accessible and are provided free. These promotive and preventive programmes are provided at primary health care settings in the form of anonymous screening. This service aims to encourage those with high risk behaviour to come for free and confidential HIV testing. Females constituted 35.7% of the cases that were screened anonymously in 2003.

Surveillance of HIV/ AIDS

Routine HIV screening for Intravenous Drug Users and sex workers in correctional institutions has been established since early 1989. This screening was expanded to include prisoners involved in high risk activities, foreign workers and patients with Sexually Transmitted diseases and TB infections. Through these surveillance activities, HIV/AIDS trends are being constantly monitored.

Health Promotion and Education

To increase awareness on HIV/ AIDS a youth specific program ‘PROSTAR’ – Healthy Life without AIDS for youth’ was launched in 1996. It is a joint initiative between the Ministry of Health and other ministries. It aims to empower youths to practice healthy lifestyle and enable them to withstand negative influences.

Besides the general campaign the Government has conducted specific campaigns on ‘Women and AIDS’ in 1997 to empower women and their partners in the prevention and control of HIV/AIDS.

Several health education materials have been published on HIV/AIDS and circulated to target groups. Among the general publications which are specific for women include the book on ‘Wanita Mudah Dijangkiti HIV’ in Bahasa Malaysia and ‘Wanita – women are vulnerable to HIV’ in English.

Treatment, Care and Support

The Malaysian Government primarily assumes the overall responsibility for providing curative and preventive health care services for its citizens. HIV/AIDS treatment protocol and guidelines have been developed by the Ministry of Health. Combination therapy is provided free to children, pregnant women, patients who acquired the infection through infected blood/blood products and for health care workers who got infected at work. For the other categories the Government provides two free drugs.

Malaysia has taken the courageous step in breaking patent some of the anti-retroviral (ARV) drugs in 2003 and started importing generic ARVs. Currently, with the availability of fixed drug combination, ARV treatment is almost free.

Integration of Management of HIV at Health Centres and Polyclinics

The management of HIV infected individuals is being integrated into the Primary Health Care, so that health care becomes more accessible. Currently, more than 250 clinics are offering this service which also includes risk assessment, HIV testing, counselling, medical examination, treatment, follow up, case notification, contact tracing, referral and home visits by trained health care providers. Family Medicine Specialists who are stationed in the health centres have been trained in providing anti-retroviral treatment for the patients.

Modified Syndromic Approach of STI management

This programme is to encourage the public to seek treatment for Sexually Transmitted infections at the primary care level. More than 120 health clinics have implemented the management of STI using the Modified Syndromic Approach.

Prevention and control activities in Prison and Drug Rehabilitation Centres

All new inmates admitted to the Drug Rehabilitation Centres and prisoners who have been identified with high risk behaviour are required to do HIV testing. Pre and post test counselling are also provided for the inmates.

Article 14

26. The report states that rural women are not involved in decision making at the district or higher level, have low representation in farmers’ organisations and cooperatives, have limited scope to make decisions pertaining to village development and only have leadership roles in “women’s only organisations, which are mainly social and welfare-based in nature”. The report indicates that the Government is making efforts to mobilize rural women through women’s groups and that it is conducting courses and training to enhance the skills and leadership ability of rural women. Please describe the impact of the Government’s efforts to improve the participation of rural women in decision-making processes at all levels.

Rural women’s involvement in decision making at all levels of policy and programme planning is vital to ensure that their needs are being addressed. Therefore, the Government has put forward efforts to encourage participation of rural women in decision making roles such as becoming a member of the board of directors or holding important positions in an organisation. Under the Ministry of Rural and Regional Development, we can see a significant number of women participating in cooperatives that are supervised by its agencies. For example, the cooperatives under KEDA (Kedah Regional Development Authority) shows a large number of participation by rural women and the participation has grown throughout the period of 2002 to 2005, as shown in Table VI, Annex VII.

The same case is also observed in the total number of women as members of the board of directors of these cooperatives for the same period of time as in Table VII, Annex VII.

Besides that, the Government has also put emphasis on courses and trainings for rural women in order to enhance their skills and leadership abilities. Several trainings and workshops were conducted by agencies under the Ministry of Rural and Regional Development to meet this objective as in Table VIII, Annex VII.

27. The report indicates that there is a rise in female-headed households in Malaysia and that according to the 1991 census, 18.2 percent of rural households in Malaysia were headed by women. Please describe the Government’s policies and programmes that address the specific needs of female-headed households in rural areas.

In view of the increasing number of female-headed households and the rising incidence of poverty among them, efforts have been undertaken to ensure that these women have the capacity and capability to care for their families. Towards this end, research on the difficulties faced by women as head of households as well as the differing impacts of poverty on women and men have been undertaken to assist in the development of relevant programmes and projects. Several programmes aimed at reducing the incidence of poverty among rural people which includes female-headed households had also be formulated to improve their quality of life as well as that of their families.

The Government, through the Ministry of Rural and Regional Development has also provided the housing scheme for the hardcore poor ( Program Bantuan Rumah/PBR ), formerly known as ( Program Perumahan Rakyat Termiskin/PPRT ) under the Skim Pembangunan Kesejahteraan Rakyat (SPKR). This programme was introduced during the Eighth Malaysia Plan (2001-2005) in order to ensure the targeted group can live in a safe and conducive environment. The total number of hardcore poor people according to gender who receives the housing scheme as at 2004 is illustrated as below.

Table IX : Housing Schemes Given as at 2004





Housing Assistance Programme

(Program Bantuan Rumah/ PBR)






The Ministry also had provided several training programmes conducted by its agencies to achieve the above objectives. Among them are:

Table X: Training Programmes Conducted by Agencies under Ministry of Rural and Regional Development


Name of agencies

Name of the programme





The Course on Family Well Being



Institute For Rural Advancement

(Focused on the Single-Mother Category)




Women Development Program



Kedah Regional Development

(for Single-Mother)




In addition, the Ministry has encouraged rural women to participate in business as a means to reduce the incidence of poverty among the female-headed households. A good example, is the women’s smallholder groups (PWPK) organised by RISDA (Rubber Industry Smallholders Development Authority). The women’s smallholder groups have successfully recruited a total number of 9,792 members as shown in Annex VIII.

On the other hand, to enhance women’s capabilities to contribute towards national development, capacity building programmes through smart partnership with the non-governmental organisations (NGOs) were implemented. The main strategy of this programme is to empower women by providing them greater access to knowledge through effective capacity building programmes as well as support services. The priority areas of the programmes are as below:-

Gender sensitization

Capacity building for NGOs

Skills building

- handicraft

- food preparation, processing and catering

- information and communication technology (ICT)

- women’s rights

- enhancing legal literacy and knowledge

Sexual harassment and violence against women

Health and family development

Community and welfare programmes

From 2001 until December 2004, a total of RM53.7 million has been disbursed to 546 NGOs to implement capacity building programmes which benefited about 450,000 women. To ensure the effectiveness and efficiency of the programmes by the NGOs, the Ministry also provides non-monetary support such as capacity building courses, consultation, guidance and instilling good governance practices.

Articles 15 and 16

The report states that women’s status in the family is “based on the culture and traditional beliefs of its various ethnic groups” and “a wife is expected to obey her husband” and his family and “there is little room for negotiation or deviation” from these norms and practices. Please indicate the steps the Government is taking, including through the education system and the media, to raise awareness of equality of women and men in marriage and to encourage debate on the status of women in the family.

The Government is taking initiatives to raise awareness on the rights and responsibilities of men and women in the family through the following programmes:


SMARTSTART is a pre-marital course designed for newlyweds and those intending to get married. The course emphasizes, inter alia , equitable sharing of tasks and responsibilities of men and women within the family, especially between the husband and wife. Beginning in 2004, 219 SMARTSTART courses were implemented at the grass root level by women community leaders and NGOs.

Family Development Training

The training for family development conducted by the National Population and Family Development Board (NPFDB) promotes gender equality in the family. It focuses on parenting skills of both parents who play equal roles in family development. The training also takes into consideration adolescent development and of fatherhood so that sons and fathers are more gender sensitive and would value the partnership among family members in sharing household responsibilities. These programmes will help to lessen the effects of gender stereotyping within the family.

Legal Aid Bureau

Women have equal access to legal assistance provided by the Legal Aid Bureau. The Legal Aid Bureau is a government funded legal aid agency. A total of 17,071 women seeked legal aid from 2001 to 2004. Legal Aid activities implemented by the Legal Aid Bureau include:

Litigate in civil and criminal proceedings that covers Magistrate Court, Session Court, High Court, Court of Appeal and Federal Court;

Litigate in civil proceedings that covers Syariah Lower Court, Syariah High Court and Syariah Court of Appeal;

Give legal advice on all matters specified in the Fourth Schedule of Legal Aid Act 1971;

Provide mediation sessions for case settlement before the court;

Provide research on civil and syariah legislation and collaborate with government agencies such as Baitumal, DSW, non-government organisations (NGOs), Legal Aid Centre and National Legal Aid Committee;

Monitor and supervise Case Management System and Linked System (CMS) between E-Syariah Department of Syariah Judiciary Malaysia and CMS Legal Aid Bureau;

Implement Legal literacy by carrying out activities such as giving talks on radio and to government agencies and NGOs; and

Smart Partnership with Telekom Malaysia in Legalinfo of Legal Aid Bureau.

In addition, the Ministry of Education, through school subjects such as Religious Education and Moral Education teach students to love and respect each other in the family. They are also taught that open discussions and negotiations are the ways to solve interpersonal problems. The students are also taught that men and women are equal.

29. The Islamic Family Law (Federal Territories) (Amendment) Bill 2005 contains several provisions that adversely affect Muslim women, such as making polygamy easier for men, giving a Muslim man the right to claim a share of his existing wife’s assets upon his polygamous marriage and the right to get a court order to stop his wife from disposing of her assets, forcing a wife to choose maintenance or division of marital property upon a husband’s polygamous marriage and extending the wife’s right to fasakh divorce to the husband while not giving the husband’s right of talaq to the wife. Please give details of whether women’s groups, especially Muslim women’s groups, were consulted in the preparation of this Bill and indicate whether any measures are being taken to address the de facto discriminatory aspects of this Bill to bring it in line with the provisions of the Convention.

The assertion that the Islamic Family Law (Federal Territories) (Amendment) Bill 2005 contains several provisions that adversely affect Muslim women is a misconception. The Islamic Family Law (Federal Territories) (Amendment) Bill 2005 (hereinafter referred to as “the Bill”) contains provisions to enhance the protection of women and their rights and to improve the administration of Islamic Family Law in Malaysia.

Pursuant to the criticisms levied on the Bill, the Attorney General had convened three meetings on the Bill attended by representatives from the Bar Council of Malaysia, Malaysian Syarie Lawyers Association, the Association of Ulamak Malaysia, relevant ministries and government departments, non-governmental organisations including Muslim women’s group such as Sisters in Islam, Muftis, experts in Islamic Family Law, and academicians.

The meeting agreed as follows –

a) that the Bill is not in contravention of Islamic Law according to any recognised Islamic school of thought;

b) that the provisions of the Bill is intended to enhance the protection and rights of women in Malaysia and to improve the administration of Islamic Family Law in Malaysia;

c) that the drafting of several provisions of the Bill needs to be amended to clearly reflect the intention of the provisions especially with respect to the understanding on what is meant by harta sepencarian (jointly acquired property by husband and wife during marriage).

With regards to the assertion that several provisions of the Bill adversely affect Muslim women, Malaysia’s response is as shown in Annex IX.

Optional Protocol

30. Please indicate any progress made with respect to ratification of, or accession to, the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.

Malaysia will look into the possibility of ratifying or acceding to the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women when and only if all obligations of the country to the provisions of the Articles in CEDAW have been fulfilled.