KUALA LUMPUR, July 15 — The Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) urged authorities to investigate allegations that health officials coerced Orang Asli women into receiving birth control shots.
The doctors’ group said choosing to have children was a “universal human right”, but pointed out that health care providers must advise women if they risk complications during pregnancy due to a medical condition, such as anaemia.
“We are concerned about recent claims by a group of Orang Asli in Gua Musang and activists that Orang Asli women were forced to receive birth control injections,” MMA president Dr N. Ganabaskaran said in a statement.
“These are serious claims and we urge the authorities concerned to thoroughly investigate this matter. Sufficient proof must be produced and if these claims are found to be true, appropriate action must be swiftly taken.”
Former MMA president Dr Milton Lum said recently that forcing Orang Asli women to take birth control may lead to a medical negligence claim, a complaint to the Malaysian Medical Council, or civil or criminal proceedings for assault.
Bernama quoted Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad as saying that the ministry would hold an internal inquiry to determine if its health professionals had used force in administering birth control among Orang Asli women.
He previously said health officials were merely trying to promote contraceptives to protect anaemic women from potentially harmful pregnancy.
Orang Asli women from the Temiar tribe in Hulu Perak, Perak, have reportedly accused health authorities of forcing them to take birth control injections. A Temiar villager from Gua Musang, Kelantan, also reportedly alleged that Health Ministry officials threatened women in her village to take birth control shots or pills, or have their medical cards confiscated.