Domestic violence is prohibited under the Domestic Violence Act and the Penal Code, which was amended in 2011 to expand the definition of the offence to include “psychological abuse, including emotional injury”. The law is designed to grant both civil and criminal remedies for the survivors, including the provision of protection orders, and anyone who wilfully contravenes such an order by using violence against a protected person may be punished by imprisonment of up to one year and a maximum fine of 2,000 ringgit.  The Domestic Violence Act was deliberately attached to the penal code so that domestic violence is a crime and not a family matter. However, the law is still weak in some important areas, including: a lack of recognition of stalking and intimidation; the limited purview of the Act to assist women outside of marriage relationships; and a failure to recognise domestic violence as an offence under the Penal Code (instead being charged under the ‘hurt’ provisions in the Penal Code). Moreover, the law’s implementation reportedly remains poor. For example, obtaining an Interim Protection Order against a perpetrator may take anywhere between 24 hours and 3 months.
The government reported in 2004 that it is also an offence under the Islamic Family Law for a husband who ill-treated his own wife either mentally, emotionally or physically. Syariah law provides that any person who ill-treats his wife commits an offence and is liable to be punished with a fine or with imprisonment not exceeding six months or both.
However, NGOs report that conviction rates remain low and traditional perceptions of a wife as the property of her husband underpins a social acceptance of violence within Muslim communities that leads to under-reporting.
The Ministry of Health has established a system of One-Stop Crisis Centres (OSCC) in all major hospitals to handle survivors of violence and sexual assault and provide multi-sectorial victim support services. As of 2012, there were OSCC services in 102 government hospitals nationwide.
In a 2011 report by UN Women, the Malaysian OSCC model was held to be “extremely successful in combining clinical therapeutic response with secondary preventive measures.”
In addition, the Islamic Religions Department has set up temporary shelters for Muslim survivors of domestic violence throughout Malaysia. They also provide legal and counselling services to their clients, although there is no statistical data on their effectiveness.
In practice, intimate partner violence continues to be a problem in Malaysia, which, according to Amnesty International, may be attributed to social attitudes that tended to regard domestic violence “as a private matter, with the police and courts appearing unwilling to take action against those who may have assaulted their spouses or other relatives within the home.”
According to the US State Department, domestic violence cases reported to the police from 2000 to 2012 indicated a steady trend, from 3,468 in 2000 to 3, 488 in 2012.
However, this is thought to represent only a fraction of actual incidents. One shelter that provides services for abused women reported that in 2012 only 31 of the 133 women it provided shelter to (23%) made police reports while staying at the refuge.
It is also reported than many women in Malaysia are not aware of the law, which prevents them from seeking protection.
According to a representative of the police, even when domestic violence cases were reported, almost 80% ended up with a request of withdrawal by the victims of violence.
In 2005, marital rape was also reported as a concern for women’s organisations. Statistics gathered by NGOs indicate that in the years 2000-2002, 52% of women who had been subjected to domestic violence had been forced into sex by their husbands.
The Penal Code provides that rape
is punishable by a prison term of up to 30 years, caning, and a fine. A 2006 amendment to the Penal Code criminalizes potential or actual physical harm within marriage, but falls short of criminalizing marital rape.
In addition, an earlier exception still remains in the Code, which provides that “[s]exual intercourse by a man with his own wife by a marriage which is valid under any written law for the time being in force, or is recognized in Malaysia as valid, is not rape.”
In the Penal Code, rape with an object is not considered rape – but rather an “unnatural offence”, a fact that has been criticized by women’s civil society groups.
The courts may also decide the minimum jail term for a man convicted of statutory rape of a girl aged 16 years or less;
and prohibits a person in authority from using his position to intimidate a subordinate into having sexual relations.
Exact figures on all forms of sexual and gender-based violence are difficult to obtain; however, the US State Department reports that in 2011, rape victims lodged 3,301 police reports, compared with 3,595 in 2010; although the police did not publicly report the number charged, convicted, and punished on rape charges. 
In 2011, employment legislation was amended to include provisions relating to sexual harassment.
However, the law has been criticized for containing several weaknesses that prevent it from adequately addressing the problem, including: the fact it allows the employer to decide on whether or not an inquiry should be conducted;
and does not provide for compensation or an apology to victims of sexual harassment, but rather gives the victim the option to resign with payment in lieu of notice, and termination of benefits and indemnity.
No reliable figures exist on the nature and extent of sexual harassment in Malaysia.
There is no clear picture of the prevalence of female genital mutilation
(FGM) in Malaysia. In April 2009, a national fatwa was declared on female circumcision, stating that it is obligatory for Muslim women to undergo circumcision unless it will result in some form of harm to the woman.
This fatwa has not been gazetted in any state of Malaysia so it is not considered as having the force of law.
However, the US State Department cites several recent studies that indicate that the practice is gaining in popularity.
is reported to be a serious problem in Malaysia, with a significant number of young foreign women recruited ostensibly for legal work in Malaysian restaurants and hotels, but subsequently coerced into the commercial sex trade.
The country is primarily a destination for trafficked women and girls from Burma, Mongolia, the People’s Republic of China, Indonesia, Cambodia, Thailand, the Philippines, and Vietnam. However, recently there have been reports of women from Ugandan Nigeria, Ghana, Zimbabwe, and Macau, being trafficked for forced prostitution.
In July 2007, the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act (ATIP Act) was approved and came into force in February 2008. This law stipulates penalties for trafficking, outlines the functions of the Council for Anti-Trafficking in Persons and the way in which victims of trafficking are to be protected.
However, despite a strong legal framework, the Government of Malaysia does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking.
Women’s NGOs have noted that laws relating to the trafficking of persons do not adequately cover the protection and care of victims, including a failure to provide reparations. Additionally, the US State Department reports that the government continued to consign victims to substandard detention facilities and to deny them basic freedoms, or access to NGOs that could provide services.
In 2012 the Government reportedly certified 444 victims of trafficking and convicted only 11 sex trafficking offenders; an increase from 2011.
The National Fatwa Council has declared a series of fatwas aimed at limiting the rights of women to bodily integrity. There is a fatwa making it obligatory for girl children to undergo circumcision; a fatwa against ‘pengkids’
(a term referring to Malay women who appear masculine); and a fatwa against women who shave their heads.
Additionally, the Joint Action Group for Gender Equality reports that the Johor Religious Department has whipped 24 women between April 2013 and June 2013 and sentenced another 22 women to the same fate for allegedly committing crimes, including having sex outside of wedlock.
With respect to women’s reproductive integrity, abortion
in Malaysia is permitted to save a woman’s life and to preserve a woman’s physical and mental health.
In practice however, NGOs have reported that medical staff are reluctant to provide the service, due to either social attitudes or an ignorance of the law.
In terms of attitudes towards abortion, a national fertility and family survey found that 71% of the women surveyed endorsed abortion on the grounds of rape or incest; 54% endorsed it if the woman was unmarried, 52% for health reasons and 34.5% for economic and social reasons.
According to a 2010 survey, the modern contraceptive
prevalence rate for married women aged 15-49 was 32.3%.
Abortion is illegal in Malaysia, except where the continuance of the pregnancy poses a risk of injury to her mental and physical health. Laws and medical guidelines in Malaysia require the consent of the husband of a married Muslim woman to carry out an abortion.
However, in practice, access is limited. In a joint submission to the United Nations Human Rights Council, several sexual health NGOs reported that most sexual and reproductive health services, including family planning, were not generally available in government facilities to unmarried women; and that young Muslim women did not generally utilize these services.
 Domestic Violence Act 1994, Section 18  NGO-CEDAW (2012), p.198  NGO-CEDAW (2012), p138  CEDAW (2004), p.117  NGO-CEDAW (2012), p.195  NGO-CEDAW (2012), p138  UN Women (2011), p.47  UNAFEI (2006), p.120  Amnesty International (2005)  WAO (2012), p.7  WAO (2012), p.7  UNAFEI (2006), p.118  UNAFEI (2006), p. 120  National Council of Women’s Organisations (2005), p.141  Penal Code, amended 2006, Article 375A: NGO-CEDAW (2012), p.35  Penal Code Amended 2006, Section 375A  Penal Code Amended 2006, Section 377CA  Penal Code, Amended 2006, Section 375  Penal Code, Amended 2006, Section 375  US State Department (2013)  NGO-CEDAW (2012), p.19  Employment (Amendment) Act 2011, Section 81B (3)  NGO-CEDAW (2012), p.127  Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (n.d)  NGO-CEDAW (2012), p.140  US State Department (2013)  US State Department (2013b)  US State Department (2013b) Laws of Malaysia Act 670 Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act 2007, available at: http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/population/trafficking/malaysia.traf.07.pdf  US State Department (2013b)  US State Department (2013b)  US State Department (2013b)  NGO-CEDAW (2012), p.16  JAG (2013)  UN (2011)  NGO-CEDAW (2012), p.136  United Nations Population Division (2002)  UN (2012)  FRHAM (2013), p.4  FRHAM (2013), p.3