Sexual assault is a serious problem.
But although movements such as #MeToo are still growing and various sexual predators are being called out by their victims online, sexual assault survivors are still not being given the support they need.
Even now as Malaysia enters its Recovery Movement Control Order (RMCO) phase, it’s difficult for domestic violence survivors to seek help or even just a listening ear.
That’s where Owh My Bae steps in.
When Nurul Amiera Noor Azahar experienced an alleged sexual assault four years ago, all she wanted was someone to turn to.
Fast forward to the present time, Amiera is making sure that no one is left alone in their moment of need.
And to do so, she founded the online platform Owh My Bae in 2018. And on May 18, 2020, Amiera and her team launched the “Virtual Bae” chatbot to help domestic violence survivors reach out for help and advice.
Described as a “one-stop platform to help women protect themselves physically, mentally, emotionally, and virtually” the website caters to women between the ages of 18 to 25 and aims to foster bonds of sisterhood among women survivors.
The story behind Owh My Bae.
In an interview with Coconuts KL, Amiera recounted her experience when she was allegedly sexually assaulted by someone who she had formerly trusted. She felt depressed and isolated, and her behavior changed to the point where her mother took Amiera to seek professional help.
“I was really, really mentally ill,” Amiera said to Coconuts KL. “At that time, I couldn’t pick my own clothes, there were times I wasn’t myself because I had split personality, you know, when the changing character happens.”
Amiera spent a year taking medication and going for psychotherapy session. But when she was done, she didn’t leave empty-handed.
“After I finished my treatment, that was when I realized that I should do something so that women won’t go through the things I went through,” she said.
Although Owh My Bae’s online community platform initially focused on providing support to women experiencing problems in their relationships, it has since grown to provide resources to help women defend themselves.
“The things that women can do to protect themselves. For example, if you were harassed in public, [we] will teach you the right way to report, and the things you can use around you to protect yourself from getting harmed. We give them the basic knowledge that they need to protect themselves, all the organizations and hospitals they can go [to],” Amiera said to Coconuts KL. “Basically, guide them if they need any help with their problem.”
Currently, Owh My Bae hosts a weekly two-hour informative virtual session through Google Classroom teaching women various topics ranging from self-protection methods to debunking myths about menstruation. For more details, check out their website.
During the coronavirus pandemic in Malaysia, the government revealed that its welfare hotlines saw a 57 percent increase in calls since the country’s MCO began in mid-March.
It doesn’t help that the Malaysia’s Women, Family, and Community Development Ministry gave ridiculous advice including telling women to avoid arguments with their husbands by wearing makeup at home, speaking to them in a Doraemon-like tone, and giggle instead of nagging.