Monday, April 27, 2009

aware of AWARE

Like most Singaporeans, I had been "aware" of AWARE and the good work of Constance Singam and Dr Kanwaljit Soin. until this recent "brouhaha", AWARE has always been there at the back of our minds. for most of us, it was just good to know that they were there, even though we might not be familiar with their day to day work or need their help. It was enough that we know that women’s issues in Singapore is well covered.

During one of our home visits back to Singapore, Robina’s ex-work friend X (not a close friend, only an acquaintance I would say) shared her family problems. Turns out that her husband had gone astray (ran away with Thai prostitute). Now X and husband were fighting for their children’s custody and the family flat (husband wanna sell). According to X, her husband has been violent (as in physically hit her).

However X , being a Christian, refused to divorce the cad. despite counselling from their pastor, the husband insisted on divorce. What was more shocking was when she told Robina that she had attempted suicide before. she was convinced that she could not win custody of her kids. I think X was using suicide to "convince" her errant husband to return. Robina heard from X that she was hiding her separation from her close friends. they were told that the husband was working overseas. This might explain why X poured out her troubles to Robina; while she could provide a listening ear since she was not from X's close circle of friends. all in all, it was a cry for help.

Even when Robina was still talking with X, she called me to check AWARE phone number (a quick google search). She referred X to AWARE. Robina thought that AWARE would be better placed to advise her friend on the legal issues as well as counsel her psychologically. We didn't know if X did seek out AWARE, I hope she did.

Singapore needs a group to champion women's issues. It should remain secular. Women who need help must have an avenue for assistance, and should not be discriminated for their sexual orientation, beliefs or creed. In the immortal words of Depeche Mode, "People are people, So why should it be, You and I should get along so awfully".


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