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Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Awie’s acquittal sends wrong message to abuse victims

OUTSPOKEN: A woman is punched, kicked, and mentally and physically assaulted. Her husband is acquitted. So, what is going on here?

Why do women do it? Why resolve a case, by accepting a 'compound' payment after years of abuse at the hands of a former husband? Even the legal fees, the stress and the years spent waiting, are nothing in comparison with the money offered. The wrong message is being sent to violent men, who abuse their wives and girlfriends.

Has the victim been bled financially dry, that she has no other alternative?

It is like being abused twice. First, at the hands of the former husband. Second. Again, by the husband but with the public watching. Isn't this a cop-out? It does not feel like justice is served.

What a sad day for women, when on the eve of the International Day for Women, Rozana Misbun settled the abusive relationship, with her former husband, the rock singer and actor, Awie, by accepting RM10,000.

Their domestic problems surfaced in June 2014, when pictures on WhatsApp and Facebook showed Rozana with a bruised face, swollen lips and bleeding from the ear.

Awie had been accused of assaulting his wife, twice. The first charge relates to an incident at a house in Taman Ukay Bistari, Ukay Perdana, Hulu Kelang, at 1.30 pm, on June 2, 2014.

The second involves an incident at  the PNB Counter at Jalan Tun Razak at 3 pm, later that day.

He was taken to court on July 4, 2014, but pleaded not guilty to causing his wife grievous harm.

Awie, whose real name is Ahmad Azhar Othman, was reported to have apologised in court and said, "I, Ahmad Azhar Othman, sincerely and honestly, by taking into account the welfare of our children and to save the august court's time, apologise to Rozana.

"I and Rozana agree that this is the best way to resolve the black episode in our lives for us to continue with our life."

Magistrate Ayuni Izzati Sulaiman  said that both parties had agreed to resolve the case, with the compound payment and an open apology from the accused, under provisions set by Section 260 of the Criminal Procedure Code.

Rozana nodded her head, in agreement, when asked by the magistrate if that was how she wanted the case to be resolved.

Perhaps one is wrong, but does Rozana agree that justice has been served? Her reticence is driven by reasons known only to herself.

In 2014, Rozana was beaten, punched and kicked in an argument. Awie broke her nose and fractured her rib. A camera monopod swung at her, caught her left ear and left it bleeding.

Her former husband had accused her of stealing his money and spending it without his permission. He did not believe that she had spent the money on household expenses. He stomped on the left side of her body and refused to stop, despite her pleas. She suffered internal bleeding and had to be hospitalised.

Rozana finally lodged a police report on July 18, 2014 and he was ordered not to disturb his wife or other prosecution witnesses. His bail surety was reduced because his lawyer claimed he was co-operative and said, "He had turned up each time, when he was called by the police. He came to the court when he was asked to do so.”

Well, he would behave, wouldn't he?

If Awie had been acquitted, then why did he pay a compound? So, who was responsible for beating Rozana? There are photos of her injuries to prove that she had been physically abused. Awie's apology sounds insincere.

Are victims still hiding behind a wall of silence? Fear, lack of support, limited finances and a traumatic experience, all limit the victims' ability to fight for justice. 

Has the court case, financially and emotionally drained Rozana, so she is prepared to end her trauma, with the compound payment and an apology?

It may not be the last we hear of Awie.

By Mariam Mokhtar, “a Malaysian who dares to speak the truth”. - The Ant Daily

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