Sexual abuse of Penan women

This has been in the papers lately. I’m not too savvy about what exactly is going on, but the gist of it that I understand is that there are allegations that some workers have been sexually abusing Penan women in Sarawak, and some unwanted pregnancies have resulted from those assaults. Some parties have urged that investigations be held to affirm if these allegations are true, and to take the necessary action.

That’s all fine, until this, from NST (Hat-tip: Sarawak Headhunter)

KUCHING: Sarawak Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Alfred Jabu yesterday dismissed the claims of a Swiss non-governmental organisation that Penan women and girls were being sexually abused by workers from two logging companies.

Jabu said unless the Bruno Manser Fund could give details of their allegations, it would be a waste of time to investigate.

“Show proof. Tell us which Penan settlement.

“Hearsay and sweeping statements are unfair to Sarawak.”

To his credit, he also said:

“I have not heard of such complaints from the Penan community leaders in my many visits to Ulu Baram,”

If he has made many visits to the community, that’s great.

But I do find it disturbing that he said that it would be a waste of time to investigate unless proof is shown.

So will there be no investigation unless someone can prove that sexual abuse is really happening?

Sure, hearsay and allegations as such are unfair to Sarawak. But surely if investigations are not carried out, it is equally unfair to the womenfolk of Penan?


It seems that the news article was from late September. Today’s news is better:

KUCHING: Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr George Chan has called for a full investigation into claims of sexual abuse of Penan girls by timber workers.

This is a serious allegation and I hope that a complete investigation will be done to find out what’s going on,” he said on Tuesday.

He urged the media and the public not to speculate about the matter but to leave it to the police to investigate the matter thoroughly. He added that such allegations were bad for the country’s image and as such, it was important to get to the truth of the matter.

Full article from The StarOnline HERE.

They also have an article where they interviewed several Penan women HERE. Excerpts:

A visit to several villages reveals the prevalence of sexual abuse since the advent of commercial logging. Village leaders who readily air their grouses of hardship brought by logging are hesitant to talk about the sexual exploitation by workers from nearby logging camps.

Nonetheless, at Long Pakan, Bulan Laing, a female elder claims that violation of the women began around 1996 when a Miri-based logging company arrived.

Asked if the cases were reported to the police, Bulan appears not to know that rape is a criminal offence.

3 Comments on “Sexual abuse of Penan women”

  1. Crankshaft says:

    Don’t you think an investigation is necessary to confirm or dispel an allegation? Not merely calling for “proof” – which is what you get when you’ve conducted an investigation?
    I agree.

  2. bangmalaysia says:

    I can’t for the life of me understand how this Alfred Jabu character can say, “it would be a waste of time to investigate” when there are countless newspaper reports (Star, NST, Malaysiakini) that have confirmed the rapes and violations.

    SUHAKAM, do something lah. Aren’t you given the mandate to promote and protect human rights???

  3. LightsInTheDistance says:

    This is really making me mad. This is the situation that is happening in this country. A “lackadaisical attitude” malaise, if you will. Or worse, the police could be on the take from these scums.

    The Penans are people like everyone else who wants a better future for their children. And they are a marginalised and often exploited group of people who does not deserve the attention of the powers-that-be, as shown time and again.

    Why? Because they stand in the way of all the profits that could be reap from the timber trade.

    And what do those in power do when they make an official complaint. Nothing. Yes, this is the government we have at the moment. A government that refuses to protect its citizen.

    I’m starting to doubt if things will ever change. The rainy weather outside only makes reading these news all the more gloomy.
    Don’t give up just yet. Have faith that things can, and will be better.

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