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Police mustn't dally on domestic violence deaths

Sarah Thwaites
May 31, 11

Women's Aid Organisation (WAO) wishes to extend its sincere condolences to the family of Pakiam Subramaniam, who died in Kedah in February this year, five months after her wedding.

It is tragic when a young person passes away and it is especially traumatic for Pakiam's family as Pakiam's father M Subramaniam believes that his daughter was the victim of domestic violence after seeing the severe injuries that she had allegedly sustained. M Subramaniam has also said that the police have failed to investigate the case, which led him to seek help from Malaysia's national human rights commission, Suhakam.

A thorough investigation into the death of Pakiam must be carried out by the police and Pakiam's family must be kept informed of the progress of the investigation. Section 120 of the Criminal Procedure Code states that police investigations must be "completed without unnecessary delay". Pakiam's family deserves to know the truth about her death and if it is the case that Pakiam was the victim of domestic violence, then the perpetrator/s must be brought to justice for the crimes committed.

WAO has been working with women who have experienced domestic violence for almost three decades. We have encountered numerous cases of women who have suffered domestic abuse in silence and have died in the home at the hands of abusive partners or family members. When women die in suspicious circumstances in the home, domestic violence must always be considered as a possibility and investigations and autopsies must be carried out.

The family of Pakiam Subramaniam has endured enough with the loss of their daughter. The hospital, police and all other authorities involved must treat the family with respect, care, compassion and openness during what must be the most distressing time of their lives.

Sarah Thwaites is programme officer of Women's Aid Organisation.

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