With reference to your report, Gang raped... but she lands behind bars!, the All Women's Action Society is disturbed by the action of the police in arresting and detaining the couple without giving due attention to the couple's attempt to seek urgent help for the wife. While we recognise that the police must perform its duty, they should have dealt with the case as a rape case first and foremost, given the serious trauma suffered by survivors of rape.
Rape is already one of the most under-reported of serious crimes. Nearly two decades' worth of work on this issue by Awam has shown that while the number of reported rape cases generally increases each year, they are merely the tip of the iceberg it is estimated that for every rape that is reported, 10 go unreported.
The crippling shame, external pressures such as societal insensitivity or the cultural practice of making rape survivors marry their rapists to "save face", and the fact that people often blame the victim rather than the perpetrator are some factors which cause rape survivors to be hesitant in coming forward.
The inhumane behaviour by the police in the case of the Indian nationals will make rape survivors even more hesitant to come forward and report rapes. The couple should be commended for their courage, not thrown behind bars.
Everyone in this country, however they got here and whatever their legal status, deserves justice and the protection of the law from violent crimes such as rape and sexual assaults. We all need to understand that even people who are not documented residents have human rights and this includes the right to be not subject to violence. It is part of our, and the police's duty, to uphold this right. Otherwise we will be creating a situation where people feel free to abuse and violate undocumented workers.
In the end, Malaysia may insist that undocumented residents go back to their homelands. However, while they are here, we should uphold their rights as human beings. In the current environment where citizens are calling for ever harsher measures against rapists, it is shameful that cases involving one of the most vulnerable and marginalised groups among us should be so tragically ignored by society at large.
The writer is president of the All Women's Action Society (Awam).