KUCHING: Minister of Women, Family and Community Development Datuk Rohani Abdul Karim has vowed to get to the bottom of allegations of sexual exploitation and rape cases of Penan women which had sparked a public outcry since 2008.
She said her ministry had gone to the ground to investigate with the hope that this longstanding issue could be resolved soon.
However, Rohani, who is also Batang Lupar MP, noted that no fresh cases had been highlighted of late
“Officers on the ground reported that the problems have been solved.
There are no new cases.
Maybe the opposition highlighted this issue of late to catch my attention,” she told reporters after paying a courtesy call on Chief Minister Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud at PBB headquarters here yesterday.
“However, there are various other problems in Sabah and Sarawak pertaining to my ministry that need to be addressed too.”
It is understood that her ministry, in its task force report, had confirmed the consistent pattern of rape and sexual abuses of Penan women by timber company workers.
The report documented at least eight cases of rape and molest.
It highlighted that Penan women were raped or abused when hitchhiking on timber trucks or at logging camps near their homes.
The report mentioned that Penan girls are particularly vulnerable to attacks as many of them depended on timber trucks for transport to schools.
The report also contained recommendations on health and education issues.
On another matter, Rohani urged the general public to give feedback with regard to issues concerning senior citizens, family development, children, disabled community and the poor people.
“We will definitely organise meetings and dialogues with welfare bodies, relevant NGOs and associations as part of our efforts to improve on our existing programmes and activities.”
On her meeting with Taib, Rohani revealed that Taib suggested that her ministry organise a grand conference to empower women in business.
“The chief minister a lso highlighted the need to look into urban poverty issues.”
Also present at the courtesy call were PBB’s other newlyappointed federal ministers and deputy ministers, namely Dato Sri Douglas Uggah Embas (Minister of Plantation, Industries and Commodities), Datuk Fadillah Yusof (Minister of Works), Nancy Shukri (Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department), Datuk Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar (Deputy Home Minister) and Datuk Alexander Nanta Linggi (Deputy Minister of Rural and Regional Development).