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The Women's Aid Organisation (WAO) is an independent, non-religious, non-governmental organisation based in Malaysia, committed to confronting violence against women.

WAO was established in 1982 when it opened Malaysia's first Women's Refuge, providing shelter, counseling and child support to battered women.

In 1985, the Anak Angkat (Child Sponsorship) Program was launched to meet the educational needs of ex-residents' children.

WAO opened a Child Care Center in 1990, the first of its kind in Malaysia, to provide a home for ex-residents' children.

WAO is also involved in public education to create awareness of Violence Against Women and women's rights, and does advocacy on legal reform, in particular, policies and laws that discriminate against women.



To promote and create respect, protection and fulfillment of equal rights for women. To work towards the elimination of discrimination against women, and to bring about equality between women and men.


  1. To provide on request to women and their children suffering from mental, physical and sexual abuse, temporary refuge services that empower and enable them to determine their own future.
  2. To offer emotional and social support to any women who request for it, resident or otherwise, and offer support and after-care.
  3. To undertake and encourage research into any of the factors that contribute to the inequality and subordination of women.
  4. To undertake and advocate with government and non-government organisations the eradication of factors that contribute to the inequality and subordination of women through law, policy and institutional reforms.
  5. To create an awareness and better understanding among individuals, public and relevant agencies on the issues of violence against women and the underlying inequalities.


Domestic Violence

Domestic Violence forms the bulk of cases at WAO. Between 1990 and 1992, WAO conducted collaborative research in Malaysia to look at the problem of battered women, public attitudes, and the experiences of public agencies such as hospitals, the police and legal services in Malaysia. The report, Battered Women in Malaysia: prevalence, problems and public attitudes was essential for WAO's advocacy for improved agency assistance for battered women, and a national Domestic Violence Act.

WAO is currently working with the Body Shop conducting a national campaign in Malaysia: STOP Violence Against Women: learn, speak out and take action! This campaign aims to educate the public on different forms of abuse against women, and to provide options for women in crisis.

The Domestic Violence Act in Malaysia (To be expanded/edited)

Since 1985, WAO has campaigned hard for the enactment of a Domestic Violence Act (DVA) in Malaysia. The Act was finally passed in 1994, making Malaysia the first country in Asia-Pacific to pass such legislation. Two years later the act had yet to be implemented. After sustained campaigning by WAO and other women's organisations, the DVA was implemented on the 1st June 1996.

Under the DVA

  • You can make a complaint to the police or to Social Welfare.
  • You can stay at a shelter if you do not feel safe at home.
  • You can apply to the court for an Interim Protection Order (IPO) that instructs the offender not to abuse you.
  • You can ask the court to add power of arrest to the IPO if you fear that the offender is likely to hurt you again.
  • If you are taking care of someone who is being abused, (like a child or a disabled person), you can apply for an IPO for them.
  • If the offender violates the IPO, then he can be punished by the court.

Soon after its implementation, WAO began the Monitoring of the Domestic Violence Act Project, to evaluate the impact of the DVA on battered women, to lobby for proper implementation, and to make recommendations for strengthening the Act. WAO also strives to help women understand the nature and function of the Interim Protection Order and how to obtain it.

The Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) (To be expanded)

In 1998, as part of our research and advocacy, WAO partnered with INRAW Asia-Pacific to monitor the fulfillment of the Malaysian Government's obligation to women's equality as set out in the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).

Foreign Domestic Worker Abuse (To be expanded)

According to the Human Rights Watch (Jones,1996) in 1995, Malaysia became the largest receiver of foreign workers in Asia,. WAO is finding that incidences of Foreign Domestic Worker Abuse is of increasing concern and the WAO refuge is receiving growing numbers of foreign maids who are victims of violence. WAO has been documenting these women's experiences, monitoring Foreign Domestic Worker Abuse cases through the courts and in the press. WAO has now developed a series of protocols to handle these cases and will be launching a multi-level project to do advocacy on Foreign Domestic Worker rights and campaign for a better system of protection and redress for domestic workers.

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Women's Aid Organisation
Pertubuhan Pertolongan Wanita
P.O. Box 493 Jalan Sultan
46760 Petaling Jaya
Selangor Darul Ehsan
Tel. +60 3 756 3488
Fax. +60 3 756 3237

WAO is a registered society with tax exemption status under Registrar of Societies. WAO is a member of the Joint Action Group against Violence Against Women and an affiliate member of the National Council of Women's Organisations and the Malaysian Aids Council.

Legal disclaimer
 copyright 2000. WAO.