Penan girls’ sexual abuse probePosted: December 14, 2009
About a month ago, I posted something HERE, linking to an article found on the StarOnline, quoting our Deputy IGP as saying that he considered the matter ‘closed’, and that he doesn’t want to ‘talk about it anymore’. Again, I quote:
Ismail (the Deputy IGP) said in Kuching that the police had done all they could, but the probe had gone nowhere due to lack of evidence and lack of cooperation from the alleged victims and from the non-governmental organisation that had exposed the alleged rapes.
2 weeks ago, Malaysiakini published an article on their website, titled Helpless Victims of Merciless Sex Predators:
The Penan community is mystified with the slow reaction by the authorities, especially the police, in taking action against the sexual abuse, including rape of the Penan girl, as identified by a national task force.
The report by the Ministry for Women, Family and Community Development, was compiled by a high-level task force, comprising government officials, a police representative and women’s groups and released on Sept 8, almost eight months after the fact-finding mission was undertaken in Penan villages in Baram.
The report confirmed that sexual harassment and exploitation by timber camp workers had indeed taken place and indentified several cases in the report.
In a recent Malaysiakini visit to Ulu Baram, many Penan leaders expressed disappointment with the police’s lack of teeth in catching the culprits.
Other Penan village heads also confirmed that some of the villages had been visited by the “thugs from the logging companies to ask us to keep the matter quiet”.
At least in one village, a victim’s family was harassed by the police for going public about the rape.
A video was posted together with the article
The conclusion of the national task force is as follows, English translations my own:
Ahli Jawatankuasa Bertindak Peringkat Kebangsaan Bagi Menyiasat Dakwaan Penderaan Seksual Terhadap Wanita Kaum Penan di Sarawak telah sebulat suara membuat kesimpulan seperti yang tertera di bawah:(The National Task Force for the Investigation of Sexual Abuse Towards the Women of the Penan Community in Sarawak have unanimously concluded as follows:)
i. Ahli Jawatankuasa Bertindak memutuskan bahawa dakwaan mengenai penderaan seksual di kalangan kanak-kanak perempuan dan wanita Penan oleh orang luar yang berurusan dengan kaum Penan termasuk pekerja syarikat pembalakan dan
peniaga-peniaga memang berlaku;
(i. The National Task Force concludes that the allegations of sexual abuse amongst girls and women of the Penan community by outsiders dealing with the Penan community, including employees of logging companies and businessmen have really occured;)
ii. Penderaan seksual ini kebanyakannya berlaku akibat daripada kebergantungan mangsa kepada pengangkutan kenderaan milik syarikat pembalakan dan kehadiran orang luar yang berurusan dengan orang kampung untuk membeli hasil hutan;
(ii. Most of these sexual abuse cases happen due to the victims’ dependence on transport owned by logging companies and the presence of outsiders who deal with the villagers to purchase goods;)
iii. Penderaan seksual sangat tidak diterima oleh masyarakat Penan, namun begitu, mereka sangat terdedah kepada masalah ini disebabkan oleh:
- kemiskinan hidup;
- tempat tinggal yang jauh di pedalaman;
- kebergantungan kepada syarikat pembalakan yang terlalu tinggi bukan hanya dari segi pengangkutan untuk mendapatkan perkhidmatan kesihatan dan persekolahan tetapi juga kemudahan asas termasuk bekalan air, kemudahan generator elektrik dan lain-lain;
- kurang rasa percaya terhadap pihak berkuasa; dan
- persepsi negatif dan prejudis terhadap kaum Penan oleh masyarakat luar seperti malas, suka berbohong dan ketagihan arak oleh masyarakat luar menyebabkan mereka merasa terpinggir dan rendah diri. Ini menyukarkan mereka untuk berurusan dengan pihak luar.
(iii. Sexual abuse is not acceptable in the Penan community, but they are nevertheless very much exposed to this problem due to:
- living quarters located too far inland;
- too high a dependency on logging companies, not only in terms of transport to get health services and to schools, but also for basic facilities including water supply, electricity generators and others;
- the lack of trust towards authorities; and
- a negative perception and perjudice towards the Penan community by outsiders, like lazy, liars and alcohol addicts, cause them to feel outcast and humiliated. This makes it difficult for them to deal with people from outside their community.
iii. Kesemua isu, iaitu penderaan seksual, ketiadaan dokumen pengenalan diri, masalah kesihatan dan keciciran dalam pendidikan di kalangan kaum Penan di kawasan Baram, Miri, Sarawak sebenarnya berkait rapat dengan masalah pembangunan yang tidak mampan dan menyeluruh. Ketiadaan infrastruktur seperti jalan raya ditambah pula ketiadaan kemudahan pengangkutan awam telah menimbulkan kesukaran kepada penduduk Penan untuk berurusan dengan pihak luar termasuk agensi Kerajaan; dan
(iii. All these issues, namely sexual abuse, lack of identification documents, health problems and lagging behind in education amongst the Penan community in Baram, Miri, Sarawak, are actually closely related to the development that is neither solid nor thorough. Absence of infrastructure such as roads, in addition to absence of a public transport system have created difficulties for the Penan community to deal with people from the outside, including Government agencies; and)
iv. Bagi memastikan pembangunan yang lebih seimbang, penglibatan masyarakat kaum Penan perlu ditingkatkan dalam setiap proses membuat keputusan yang melibatkan mereka.
(iv. To ensure that development is more balanced, involvement of the Penan community needs to be improved in every decision-making process that involves them.)
None of this is made up. Everything is in the report and in newspaper articles. And yet, we have the police telling us that the case ‘is closed’ and that our Deputy IGP refuses to talk about it anymore.
We cannot just ‘wish’ this problem away; refuse to talk about it, and imagine that it will disappear.
More than a year has passed, and has anything been done?
My views are simple: Something has to be done.