Malaysia has seen a spike in the number of domestic violence cases following the implementation of the Movement Control Order (MCO) on 18 March
The COVID-19 pandemic that has forced countless of families indoors to keep safe has unfortunately led to another pressing issue, or what global agency UN Women refers to as, a shadow pandemic.
As a result of the MCO, many vulnerable individuals, especially women and children, have been left helpless and stuck at home with their abusers.
According to the Women's Aid Organisation (WAO), their domestic violence hotlines have seen an increase in enquiries by 3.6 and 3.4 times in April and May, as compared to February, before the MCO was implemented.
WAO executive director Sumitra Visvanathan said the sharp rise in domestic violence that the organisation was witnessing during the MCO was extremely concerning
“When [victims] are put into a situation of isolation with their abusers, this creates circumstances where it is even easier for the abuser to exert control physically, emotionally, and socially," she explained in a WAO publication on Tuesday, 9 June.
"The MCO was necessary to control COVID-19, but the government must also recognise that for many women and children home is not a safe haven - but actually quite the opposite."
Other local non-governmental organisations such as the All Women's Action Society (AWAM) and even the Ministry of Health's mental health hotline have also reported a significant number of Malaysians calling in to report household violence and abuse during the MCO.
In response to the worrying trend, Twitter has partnered with these local organisations to increase contact points to help domestic abuse victims seek the support they need
The social media platform has collaborated with AWAM and WAO in Malaysia to roll out a notification service on their website that directs people to hotlines of trusted local organisations where victims can seek immediate help.
This is part of their global #ThereIsHelp initiative, where Twitter has also worked with UN Women Asia Pacific and more local organisations to bring the service to other countries, such as Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, Singapore, South Korea, and Vietnam.
The new tool means that when someone searches for keywords associated with domestic or gender-based violence on Twitter, a prompt will appear right at the top of the results to show them a credible organisation to seek help from
Although simple, it may help a handful of victims who have no other channel of contacting these organisations or finding the help they need.
Asking for help is not a sign of weakness.
If you or anyone you know may be at risk of domestic violence, please call these Malaysian hotlines:
Twitter also collaborated with the Ministry of Health to help Malaysians easily access information about vaccines: