Those directly and indirectly involved in Rumah should face the music

16 Apr 2022 03:40pm
Fatihah joined the panel online as she addressed issues surrounding the #JusticeForBella case.
Fatihah joined the panel online as she addressed issues surrounding the #JusticeForBella case.

SHAH ALAM - An online petition demanding the termination of child activist Syed Azmi Alhabshi from his appointment as the children’s court advisor has raised about 91,000 supporters as of this morning.

According to #JusticeForBella advocate Fatihah Jamhari, the movement was demanding more accountability from those who were directly or indirectly involved the Bella abuse case.

Bella is a 13-year-old Down Syndrome girl who was allegedly abused by her caretaker Siti Bainun Ahd Razali.

Fatihah said what happened to Bella could not have happened without the silent spectators who allowed the abuse to take place and the public was part of the equation of making it happen.

“You and I are part of the equation, we have created the conducive ecosystem for social activists to find popularity through activism and they have gotten accountability by their high position, intoxicated on the social power that they get from the public.

“They deceived people into thinking that they are the saviour when in fact they are a huge part of the problem,” she said.

Fatihah said this during the Relatable, a live talk show by Sinar Daily, titled ‘Women Who Abuse: Why?’ at Sinar Karangkraf here today.

The petition, she said, which it had even garnered the support of Senator Datuk Ras Adiba Radzi, was progressing well thanks to the power of the public’s voice.

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She informed that the petition has been sent to the Deputy Women, Family and Community Development Minister Siti Zailah Mohd Yusoff’s office.

She said they had a closed door meeting in which they received positive feedback from her.

“Suffice to say that we believe unless and until those behind this (the people behind the Bella abuse) are removed, including from their appointment as Children’s Court Advisor and member of National Welfare Foundation, and are made accountable for their active roles in Rumah Bonda, we will not be silenced.

“Their silence is inexcusable. They need to speak up to ensure that the safety of children in shelter homes are taken care of,” she added.

In other developments, Fatihah mentioned that they were now working on the peripheral issues such as the legality of the care centres in Malaysia where some of these shelter homes were as they were operating without a proper licence.

“Rumah Bonda is a shelter home involved with Bella’s case, and it is one out of thousands shelter home operating without licence in the country.

“If we do not address these issue now, in order to find better provision for the legal framework of Care Centres Act 1993, then we will be sitting ducks waiting for another gruesome Bella incident to happen in the future,” she said.

Four months ago, Malaysia has been shocked with the case of a 13-year-old Down Syndrome girl had allegedly been abused by her caretaker.

The Sessions Court was told that Bella was fed rice mixed with vinegar, turmeric, salt, soy sauce, chilli and chilli flakes as well as rotten fried chicken during the fasting month by the Rumah Bonda founder Siti Bainun.

A witness said Siti Bainun also fed Bella 20 ‘cili padi’ (bird’s eye chillies) and Siti Bainun had once instructed her to tie Bella up, strip the victim naked and pour hot water onto the girl.

The witness said the incident would occur several times a week.

Siti Bainun, 30, is charged with two counts of neglecting and abusing the teenager to the point that the victim suffered injuries, physically and emotionally. She pleaded not guilty.

The offences were allegedly committed at a condominium in Wangsa Maju here, between February and June 2021, under Section 31(1)(a) of the Child Act 2001 which carries a jail sentence of up to 20 years or a fine of RM50,000 or both, upon condition.