KUALA LUMPUR, July 10 — Orang Asli women from the Temiar tribe in Perak have accused health authorities of forcing them to take birth control injections.
Malay Mail reported that several Temiar women from Hulu Perak, Perak, presented a memorandum to Orang Asli Development Department (Jakoa) director-general Juli Edo in Parliament yesterday, complaining about the allegedly forced family planning, among other issues.
“After the injection, my whole body felt painful all over. I was more or less forced to take the injection. Shortly after that, I became pregnant with my fourth child,” a woman called Sanorah from Kampung Ong Jelmol, who is in her 30s, was quoted saying about a birth control shot she received about five years ago.
“When he was born, his right hand was not fully formed. I think it could be due to the medicine they made us take.”
She reportedly said the birth control medicine also came in liquid form, which some women in her village of child-bearing age were allegedly forced to take.
Sanorah reportedly said many of them felt dizzy and uncomfortable after taking it.
Another villager called Lina Linda, who is in her 20s and has a child, reportedly said her body often felt heavy whenever she woke up in the morning after she was allegedly forced to take a birth control shot earlier this month.
“I told them I did not want it because I heard from others who took it that it can cause you to lose sensation in your body, stomach aches, and others. But in the end I had to take it,” she was quoted saying.
The Malaysian Insight reported the memorandum from the Temiar Orang Asli in Hulu Perak, Gerik, and North Sungai Siput alleged that “mothers are forced to take birth control through contraceptive shots with the reasoning that mothers are giving birth without control”.
The memorandum also complained about environmental destruction and forced Islamisation. The Orang Asli said the blockades they set up to fend off loggers were being destroyed every day.
“We prioritise protecting the forest on our traditional land because we don’t want the same thing that happened in Kuala Koh to happen to our community,” Zimah Omar from Kampung Tasek Cunex was quoted saying.
Fifteen Orang Asli from the Bateq tribe in the village of Kuala Koh in Gua Musang, Kelantan, recently died, with three of them confirmed to have succumbed to measles.
The Temiar group in Parliament also claimed that Islam was taught to non-Muslim Orang Asli students in schools against their parents’ wishes.
“Unknowingly, our religion has been registered as Islam in our identity cards even when we have never converted.
“Now our children are taught Islam and forced to fast in school against our wishes. It is as if we do not have the freedom to choose our religion. Not only are we slowly losing our traditional land, we are also losing our identity,” Anjang Aluej from Kampung Sungai Papan was quoted saying.