Orang Asli Women In Hulu Perak Are Allegedly Being Forced To Take Birth Control Shots

Contraceptives have been provided to them since the 1980s.

Cover image via Azneal Ishak for Malaysiakini/Chicago Tribune (Edited by SAYS)

On Tuesday, 9 July, women from the Temiar ethnic tribe in Hulu Perak came forward with claims of birth control medication being forced upon them

Malay Mail reported that the women, who come from several villages in Gerik, Hulu Perak, had presented a memorandum of understanding (MOU) detailing their plight during yesterday's Parliament session.

The memorandum also highlighted other matters, such as illegal logging and forced conversion to Islam.

The women claimed that the forced birth control shots left them with severe side effects, lasting both short and long term

One of the women, Sanorah, who spoke to Malay Mail said the medication came in liquid form and all women of child-bearing age were subjected to it.

Sanorah had received a shot five years ago and it left her body feeling painful all over.

Image for illustration purposes only.

Image via New Straits Times

"I was more or less forced to take the injection. Shortly after that, I became pregnant with my fourth child. When he was born, his right hand was not fully formed. I think it could be due to the medicine they made us take," she shared.

Another woman said that, after she had received her shot, her body felt heavy whenever she woke up over the next few days.

During the presentation of the memorandum, a representative for the five Orang Asli villages urged the government to stop providing birth control pills without clear explanations

"We are against hospitals providing birth control pills to Orang Asli mothers. They did say that they were (family) planning pills but did not provide details. The Orang Asli community wants this to stop," said Anjang Aluej, reported Malaysiakini.

Meanwhile, Centre of Orang Asli Concerns coordinator Colin Nicholas said he believes the issue stems from unclear communication

"The women do not like it because they do not seem to have a choice, and some complain of the side effects from the medication," he told Malay Mail.

Colin added that the provision of contraceptives has been in place since the 1980s, during Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad's first administration, with the aim of reaching a population of 70 million.

"At the time, it was also to increase the Bumiputera population, for the Malays in particular. At the same time, part of the policy also involved birth control among the Orang Asli," Colin added.

"The problem is that the Orang Asli were given the family planning and birth control medication without providing them with full knowledge and information," he explained, adding that some communities were now better informed of their rights.

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