GENDER-BASED violence is a global issue that concerns everyone. Females of all ages have been victims to various kinds of violence, ranging from domestic abuse to rape, from female genital mutilation to mental torture, where they suffered simply because of their gender.
While numerous cases have been reported and brought to justice, there are many more who suffer in silence due to societal ignorance, intolerance, and indifference towards women and girls. As a result, half of the world’s population is now living in fear of the threat of violence.
We strongly believe that every female ought to be treated with respect and dignity. They should be able to live their lives as women without any doubt or repercussions that may endanger their physical, emotional and social conditions.
As Malaysian lawmakers, we are fully committed to end violence to women in every sense, befitting Malaysia’s role as a member in the United Nations Human Rights Council this year.
Our voice and opinions should not only be heard as representing those who are vulnerable and unable to speak out against systemic cruelty and oppression on women, but also be translated into laws, regulations and policies, which aim to protect them from detriments and injustice.
There needs to be policy changes happening in order to protect Malaysian women. The long-awaited Sexual Harassment Act should be tabled to ensure women are safe whether they are an employee, an athlete or even a contractor.
We are against all sorts of discrimination or inaction against women, whether institutionalised via biased legislations, or embedded within the community as cultural norms and beliefs.
In the same vein, the government should also be more focused on implementing anti-stalking laws which will boost women’s safety everywhere, including on the Internet.
In the modern world, the law also needs to be updated to allow special instances like women in prison with small children. Instead of separating the mothers and infants, there should be special allowances to allow mother-child interaction in holding cells.
The advocacy for women empowerment is an ongoing struggle and we strive to champion this cause through formal and informal channels, including emphasis on education, level-playing field, gender mainstreaming and engagements with relevant stakeholders.
This is confirmed by WAO’s survey which indicates that Malaysians are generally aware about domestic violence but still hold firm to “patriarchal ideas on the subject such as victim blaming, giving excuses to perpetrators and believing in the sanctity of the family as an exclusive private domain free from any outside intervention.”
Until and unless there is assurance that no woman is left behind, we shall continue to fight for this humanitarian agenda towards the betterment of society. – November 25, 2021.
* Maria Chin Abdullah is Petaling Jaya MP, Elizabeth Wong is Bukit Lanjan assemblyman, Jamaliah Jamaluddin is Bandar Utama assemblyman, and Lim Yi Wei is Kampung Tunku assemblyman.
* This is the opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insight.