A minister in the Prime Minister’s Department has denied any wrongdoing in his attitude and condescending tone towards a female journalist.
Meanwhile, a DAP candidate in the recent Malacca state election claimed he did not mean any disrespect to women with his allegedly disparaging remarks.
What did he mean when he said: “Don’t be like women, doing things sneakily that others aren’t supposed to know about….”
He later claimed he was actually admonishing a group of men and the last paragraph with the words ““Even women are more gentlemanly than you” had been removed from the edited video.
As always, the politicians feeling the heat shift the attention or blame to something or somebody else. If he was criticising men in general, why bring women into it at all?
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Then we have Communications and Multimedia Minister Annuar Musa trivialising the issue of women being harassed in the Malaysian entertainment industry, saying that industry players should prioritise positive things over isolated issues that allegedly occurred.
He said he did not think the “issue needs to be magnified. Focus on the positives from isolated cases.” He felt issues of sexual harassment in the entertainment industry were being exaggerated.
But after being stung by backlash over his comments, the minister, like others, retreated to the age-old excuse that his comments had been taken out of context.
So when the minister urged people to “focus on the positives from isolated cases”, what exactly did he mean? Has his ministry looked into these “isolated cases” already, and what did it find?
Sexual harassment cases should never be thought of as trivial and swept under the carpet. People who are victims of such harassment suffer from years of trauma, and those who make light of such incidents only worsen the situation.
If he thinks this is a criminal offence, then get the police involved. The police, too, need to have an open mind – not a mindset that regards cases of rape and domestic violence as being ‘caused by women’.
This is the situation that national diver Pandelela Rinong spoke about, with a similar reaction from the youth and sports minister. He said his ministry would look into her claims. What has come out of his investigations?
The same questions can be asked of schools where female students claimed they were harassed. What have the education minister’s investigations revealed?
Nobody has the right to ‘check’ whether female students are having their ‘monthlies’. Whoever gave these people the authority to do so needs to be removed from their positions. We are now in the 21st Century – not the Middle Ages, and it is doubtful this was done even back then.
Disturbingly, a majority of people still think women are to blame for domestic violence and rape, and many do not even support gender equality. Shockingly, many even believe women are the cause of domestic violence and such violence may be also caused by stress or frustration.
The survey also found that some believe that women who flirt and are then beaten by their boyfriends or husbands out of jealousy deserve it. Some feel that domestic violence is “forgivable” if the perpetrator is angry and loses control.
Does this mean that if a woman hits her husband or boyfriend out of jealousy because he was flirting with another woman, it is also forgivable? Or if she is stressed from work and lashes out at her husband that it is also forgivable?
It is even said that rape cases are also caused by women because women, more or less, ask for it, because of the way they dress, and men cannot control their desires.
I honestly could not believe what I was reading; it was appalling.
So, the study that surveyed 1,000 respondents with the help of Ipsos was most dismaying. What an eye-opener to know how some Malaysians think and feel about violence against women.
The Women’s Aid Organisation said that crisis calls to their helpline have shot up since the pandemic.
Then again, comments coming from politicians, whom we think should know better, do not help the situation at all.
What should be done about this? Women’s groups are saying we, as a community, have to stand up against violence while organisations have held global campaigns to raise awareness.
Really, everyone must play a part. It is not enough just to have a specific day in the year to bring this to public attention. Awareness should be inculcated from parents to children, in schools, universities, workplaces, communities and society.
Each person is an individual in his or her own right and must be treated as such. Remember, violence against women does not happen only in low-income families; it happens to women at all levels, and a majority of cases are never reported.
Women ministers in government should stand up against these atrocities against their own gender. They should assist the various women’s organisations in promoting and protecting our female population.
Imagine if that girl or woman was one of your own daughters? Would you just sit back and do nothing about it? Would you accept it as the norm in the country?
The government, too, should make a stand against the tolerance of and insensitivity towards violence against women.
Attitudes and perceptions have to change. We need to look at ourselves, at our own behaviour, and put an end to this awful situation that degrades and demeans women at all levels of society – sooner rather than later.
Jem, an Aliran reader, still cares deeply about Sabah, despite having lived in the peninsula for some time