Published: 11 November 2021
Ms Shahrany Hassan, Chairperson of Casa Raudha,
Mr Abdul Hamid, Deputy Chairperson of Casa Raudha,
Board of Directors
Ladies and gentlemen
1. A very good afternoon.
2. I am very happy to be able to join you, and I truly enjoyed the session we’ve been having since we started this afternoon. I learnt a lot from you, and I realised that we have made positive movements since we started the Break the Silence Campaign back in 2016. I remembered I was at MSF then, and want to, on reflection, share with you the number of people, the number of organisations that have come onboard to care was such a very important effort, a very important topic has in fact increased. So my sincere thanks to all who have been involved in this, in trying our best to make life better, to bring lots of happiness, love and care to our families.
3. And it would remain to be very important work because as you know, the Taskforce has just shared the recommendations, and that in itself will pave more inroads towards how we can strengthen families, help people who matter, and provide the support for our society, so congratulations to all involved, and today is yet another milestone, how we have been working and coming together.
4. I would like to thank you for inviting me to this event, “End the Cycle of Abuse: Our Children’s Journey”. This is a very appropriate topic, and again, broadens our approach in engaging on this topic. This afternoon, we have heard speeches about the impact of child abuse, how the community can work together to encourage family violence perpetrators to seek help, as well as personal stories of individuals who had used violence and how they have since desisted with the support of the community.
5. We also discussed extensively about the effects of child abuse and how we can raise our children in a safe and nurturing environment.
a. Ustaz Tarmizi Wahid spoke about how we can create positive family values at home, so our children can grow up with good values.
b. Ms Nuraishah Senin shared about how we can better support families experiencing violence to seek help.
c. And Ms Rachel Yang shared about the long-term effects of child abuse and some ways we can better support abused children.
6. I found her sharing about the journey of the nine-year-old child very interesting, how we can see the child became more confident and also the child’s perspective changed from that of being scared, fearful, to something that became very clear and confident. So these are the works of the hearts and minds and emotions and as such, it is very important for us to go deep into it and help to support. And I am heartened by the exchange of ideas we had, and especially everyone’s determination to work together to stop the cycle of abuse.
7. Someone asked about, what about those who are interested in such an issue. I think at the basic level it is important for us to spread the message of love and care and how to strengthen families. When we have that at the family level, I think that would prevent lots of violence and abuse because love, the power of love, is really, really great. Because when you love someone, but you care, respect, and when we do things to strengthen families, I think that in itself will prevent many violence and abuse. Of course there are those who express love in a different way so we must help them to express in a way we are all advocating today.
Child abuse has long-term negative effects.
8. The Ministry of Social and Family Development’s Child Protective Service received more than 5,200 enquiries and investigated about 1,300 child protection cases last year, a 36% and 20% increase from that in 2019 respectively. So there has been an increase. While this increase could have been due to an increased public outreach and awareness of family violence arising from MSF’s Break the Silence against Family Violence campaign, each child abuse case is one too many.
9. Why I say this because the trauma, the pain, and the effects on the family, of any single case of family violence is one too many. So as such, we must continue to work hard, not only to increase awareness but to get help for those who need it. I’m confident that the increase is also the result of our efforts of reaching out, and people are coming forward which is a good sign, so we can help more and more.
10. In addition, as the speakers have shared, children who had been abused tend to have higher risks of displaying emotional and behavioural problems. MSF’s research findings showed that about one in three children and young persons who committed offences or were subject to investigations by MSF for child protection and welfare concerns had experienced abuse earlier in their lives.
11. Therefore, we need to stop child abuse.
There are ongoing efforts by the Government to support children experiencing abuse and their families.
12. There are existing efforts to support vulnerable children and safeguard them from abuse.
13. For all child abuse cases, MSF and the community partners work closely with the family to develop safety plans to ensure that the child’s safety and well-being is being looked after.
14. In circumstances where the home environment is unsafe for the child, MSF may temporarily remove the child while working closely with the family to ensure that there is a safe and nurturing environment that the child can return to. MSF will also work with relevant community partners to address the family’s needs, strengthen the parent-child relationship through counselling and coaching on positive parenting, provide psychological services to help the child heal from the abuse and neglect where necessary.
We also need to strengthen families so our children can grow up in a safe and nurturing environment.
15. We have also moved upstream to support families. For example, to inspire strong and stable Muslim marriages and families, we implemented the Bersamamu programme, to support Muslim couples before their solemnisation and through the first two years of their marriage. This was what was shared earlier by the work done by Assyakirin Mosque. Thank you to all the kadis and all the volunteers for making these efforts to strengthen marriages. The Bersamamu programme is created by the Registry of Muslim Marriages together with the Kadi and Naib Kadi and supported by M³ agencies and MSF. Since the initiative was implemented in July 2019, close to 13,000 couples have benefitted from the programme. And I’ve attended some of the programmes. Very interestingly, issues like who has a better say, higher say in the family. One session where the male and female, man and woman, they were arguing, who has the better say? So I also want to commend the Ustaz, the Naib Kadi, who was dealing with the case, handled it very well and I think the couple had a better idea on how they can have positive partnership in a marriage. I must commend all our stakeholders for making this important effort. Just last month, we celebrated the two-year anniversary of the Bersamamu programme, after the first group of 1,500 couples completed the programme.
16. But I feel, more can be done. We need to continue to work together, as a community, to strengthen marriages and families, so our children can grow up in a safe and nurturing environment. I see programmes like these as well as other programmes that we enrolled, they are complementary to each other. All moving towards strengthening our families.
The Government is committed to working closely with our community partners to end the cycle of abuse.
17. As some of you may have recently heard, the Government has accepted the Taskforce on Family Violence’s recommendations in principle. To be honest, I am very happy with the outcome of the Taskforce. We started with an expectation to make some improvements. We never thought we could arrive at outcomes that, in my view, were substantive. I must thank the agencies as well as all the different stakeholders for making this, it wouldn’t happen without all the hard work, spirit behind what we want to do to really move the needle. That part I think was very important. We all said, what would move the noodle? We really came out with something we hope that would make an impact.
18. The Taskforce was set up last year to develop recommendations to tackle family violence. It is co-chaired by MOS Sun Xueling and I. We comprise Government agencies and social service organisations including Casa Raudha Limited, played a very crucial role in this. We developed 16 recommendations which were organised around four areas:
a. One, I think which we will continue to do, which today, you saw the refreshed version of Break the Silence. Through this, we can have increase awareness and also strengthening societal attitudes against family violence, and enhancing preventive efforts for persons at risk. The attitude is important. How we can shape the attitude. And this is where the Asatizahs can play a very big role. Every household, families, we have, we have the right set of attitudes that can help us to strengthen families.
b. Two, making it easier for survivors and the community to report family violence, and get immediate help. This is something very important.
c. Third, strengthening protection and support for survivors to reduce their risk of being harmed again.
d. And finally, increasing the accountability of perpetrators and strengthen their rehabilitation.
19. To break the cycle of violence, while we enhance the protection and support for survivors, we also need to support the perpetrators. As a community, we need to continue to encourage the perpetrators to step forward and seek help, so there will be more desistors like Mr Mohd Firdaus and Mr Sebastian Sasikumar. I want to sincerely thank both of them. I met Firdaus earlier. I told him I admire his courage and he has contributed significantly in this area. I hope more and more will be coming forward to seek help and see how we can help one another. I also want to thank those who worked with Firdaus for really making the effort and putting in that very important effort and role that you play and coming forward to share. While Firdaus and Sebastian had used violence, but they stepped forward and seek help, and now they and their families are at a better place.
20. The Government aims to implement the recommendations over the next few years and is committed to working closely with our community partners to end the cycle of abuse. MOS Sun Xueling and I will be working very closely with our stakeholders so that we can look through, see through, and see how we can improve the things on the ground and achieve the recommendations. I am very fortunate to be able to work with you all these years from my time at MSF and now at MHA, and I feel happy that our friends have increased. The number of friends we have, partners we have, have increased and we want to continue to expand this room and we want to make sure that we provide opportunities for more families to be strengthened and for our children to have a happy childhood, to have sweet memories, happy memories when they are young so that these happy memories will be the ones that will make them resilient, keep them towards positive growth and development regardless of the challenges that they face in their lives. And they in turn, will have the opportunity to give love and care to their generation and many more future generations where we can see families strengthened, our community also able to develop positively and bring goodness to the Singapore community.
21. I thank you once again, and I wish all of you a good weekend ahead. Thank you.
 Enhancing Positive outcomes in Youth and the Community (EPYC) Longitudinal Study. The EPYC study is a 10-wave longitudinal study (each participant was surveyed once a year over a period of ten years) youth development and delinquency.
Resilience and Empowerment amidst Adversities of Childhood (REACH) Longitudinal Study. The REACH study is a 5-wave longitudinal study (each participant was surveyed once a year over a period of five years) on well-being and developmental trajectories of children in out-of-home care.