By Boo Su-Lyn
December 25, 2015
This year has seen a slew of sexist attacks against women. These include rape and death threats, being barred from government offices and hospitals because of “indecent” attire, and a Muslim clerics opinion that women can’t say no to sex with their husbands.
Then there are the many comparisons of women to inanimate objects; from likening new buildings to virgin brides, to comparing women who do not cover their “aurat” to uncovered food or unlocked homes that attract flies and robbers.
Let’s also not forget the contradictory messages that women receive. An Umno lawmaker told a female PKR MP that she was too “aggressive”, but a university said women should “think like a man.”
Here are the top 10 toe-curling incidents of sexism in Malaysia in 2015, in no particular order:
Dress code rows
Women were barred from entering government offices and even hospitals because their shorts or skirts were considered to be “too short.”They were told to put on a sarong, even though some of them were wearing Bermuda shorts or frumpy-looking knee-length skirts.
Aside from government officials who impose moral policing on women, religious authorities also warned them that exposing their flesh will attract rapists. The Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) must not have heard of rape cases involving children or of Noor Suzaily Mukhtar, who was raped and strangled to death with her tudung.
The shape of a vagina
Malaysian gymnast Farah Ann Abdul Hadi won gold at the SEA Games, but all some people cared about was a picture of her in a leotard that they said showed the “shape of her vagina.” Never mind the five medals that she won for Malaysia.
A new building is like a virgin bride
Minister of International Trade and Industry Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said the ministry’s move to a new office was like dumping one’s wife after a long marriage. He also apologised for the flaws in the new office because it was like a virgin bride that they were still “not used to.” Cringe worthy but at least he apologised unreservedly later.
‘Aggressive’ female politician
Kinabatangan MP Datuk Bung Mokhtar Radin, infamous for his sexist “bocor” remarks, said he pitied Ampang MP Zuraida Kamaruddin’s husband because the PKR lawmaker was “aggressive.” Can’t fight a woman’s arguments? Accuse her of being unfeminine instead.
Think like a man
INTI International University and Colleges put up a poster, on International Women’s Day ironically, that told women to “look like a girl, act like a lady, think like a man, work like a boss.” So, essentially, we’re supposed to look sweet and innocent, be demure and ladylike, and yet “think like a man”, whatever that means. But when we try to be assertive, we’re called aggressive instead. Women can’t win.
A woman’s smile is an invitation to follow
Muhammad Rizalman Ismail, former assistant to Malaysia’s defence attaché in New Zealand, said according to Malaysian custom, a woman’s smile at a man is an invitation to follow her. He had followed New Zealander woman Tania Billingsley to her home, bizarrely defecated outside her house, and then entered her bedroom naked waist-down. Hello, stalker.
You can’t say no
To Perak Mufti Tan Sri Harussani Zakaria, the concept of marital rape does not exist in Islam. He says a Muslim woman cannot reject her husband’s request for sex; a pervasive mind-set that’s unfortunately not confined to him alone.
Rape threat for criticising khalwat laws
Datuk Noor Farida Ariffin, spokesman for G25, a group of Malay retired senior civil servants, called for a review of Shariah laws prohibiting khalwat (close proximity), saying that invasion of privacy was un-Islamic. For that, a man threatened her with sexual assault on Facebook.
Rape, death threats for questioning hudud
If you thought the rape threat against Noor Farida was bad, the avalanche of death and rape threats against BFM journalist Aisyah Tajuddin, who had questioned Kelantan’s attempt to implement hudud, was far worse. People called her a bitch and a whore. They threatened to shoot her in the head and burn her alive.
A cop’s rape threat
A 21-year-old woman, Maisara Amira, accused a policeman of threatening to rape her when she was remanded over a May Day rally that protested against the Goods and Services Tax (GST). Not only did he allegedly threaten to assault her, he also said he could sell the recording should he rape her.
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