Vote for a sexism-free parliament

"We want MPs who respect women;
We do not want sexist leaders"

It was a loud and clear message sent by Women’s Candidacy Initiative (WCI) and The Joint Action Group (JAG) during their press conference yesterday at Sungai Siput. A group of woman rights activists from both the NGOs even took their campaign for gender equality right to the doors of MIC president S Samy Vellu only to be forcibly removed from the scene. Malaysiakini has the story and a 6 minutes video of the MIC's shameful hospitality towards the women rights activists.

Pictures courtesy of Rachel Chan. She has more of it, here and here

It looks like sexist remarks is becoming a norm in the parliament nowadays. There have been so many statements in referring to a natural, biological function of the female body. Most of us have been monitoring the debates of the Members of Parliament (MPs) and some of the MPs continue to make remarks which discriminate against women, and are sexist. The MPs who make such remarks show that they have a poor grasp of gender issues

1. Insulting comments about women’s bodies and their biological functions

Badruddin bin Amiruldin (BN–the then MP for Yan)
“Like a menopausal woman” in reference to the debate of another male MP. [Malaysiakini, 15 May 2007]

Bung Mokhtar Radin (BN–Kinabatangan)
and Mohd Said Yusuf (BN–Jasin) - dropped at 2008 GE)
Where is the leak? The member for Batu Gajah also leaks every month.” [DR 9.5.2007]

2. Comparisons of women to inanimate objects

S. Samy Vellu (BN–Sungai Siput)
“A woman 50 years ago, she looks beautiful, but today she won’t look so beautiful” [Malaysiakini, 15 May 2007]

S. Samy Vellu (BN–Sungai Siput)
“Toilets are like new brides after they are completed. After some time, they get a bit spoiled. Even if you do not use them frequently, you need someone to clean them every 25 minutes.” [Malaysiakini, 15 May 2007]

3. Sexual innuendos and double entendres

Mohamed bin Aziz (BN–Sri Gading)
“It is unusual for women’s issues to be touched (raised) by men,” and after a pause, he added, “but women are supposed to be touched by men.” [Malaysiakini, 15 May 2007]

Bung Mokhtar Radin (BN–Kinabatangan)
“Can I push through a little?” [Malaysiakini, 15 May 2007]

4. Blaming women for sexual crimes perpetrated by men

Badruddin bin Amiruldin (BN–Jerai) on marital rape
“Sometimes for reasons of entrapment she lodges a report that she had been raped. If she is a virgin it would have been okay… we can find out. But if she is not then how can we prove whether it was rape or otherwise?” [Malaysiakini, 15 May 2007]

Raja Dato' Ahmad Zainuddin bin Raja Haji Omar (BN-Larut)
Commented that in order to prevent sexual harassment, all women should be fully covered (tutup aurat) irrespective of their religion. Women were told to cover themselves completely for the good of everyone. [DR 13.3.2000]

Idris Haron (BN–Tangga Batu), Dr Mohd Hayati bin Othman (PAS–Pendang), Salahuddin Ayub (PAS–Kubang Kerian)
Claimed that the ‘sexy uniforms’ of the female MAS cabin staff would arouse the passion of male passengers. [Malaysiakini, 15 May 2007]

Shabudin Yahaya (BN–Permatang Berangan) and Datuk Jasmin Mohamed (BN–Sg Dua), Penang State Assembly
“The women’s dressing menggoda (lures) and mencabar (challenges) men.” [Malaysiakini, 15 May 2007]

5. Patronising remarks on women being “emotional” and likening women to children

Timbalan Yang di-Pertua Dato' Haji Muhamad bin Abdullah
A woman MP was told not to be too emotional in a debate on the Immigration Act 1963 and the Income Tax Act 1967 and the issues she raised were dismissed as being non-discriminatory. [DR 24.10.2000]

Tuan Haji Wan Junaidi bin Tuanku Jaafar (BN-PBB-Santubong)
Referred to a fellow woman MP as a ‘little girl’ and told her to go home and suck on a pacifier (hisap pepetlah). [DR 29.3.2000]

6. Commenting on women’s marital status as a put down

Bung Mokhtar bin Radin (BN–Kinabatangan)
Why do single mothers find it hard to remarry – most of them are still beautiful and gorgeous, so what are the real reasons?” which was responded to by…. [Malaysiakini, 15 May 2007]

Mohamed bin Aziz (BN–Sri Gading)
“due to their not-so-favourable age……men, when it comes to younger women, they will definitely drool.” [Malaysiakini, 15 May 2007]

Abdul Fatah Harun (PAS– Rantau Panjang)
“…Widows are humble… but divorcees, most of them are gatal (randy).” [Malaysiakini, 15 May 2007]

Badruddin bin Amiruldin (BN–Jerai)
Asked a fellow Parliamentarian if he knew how long YB Fong Poh Kuan’s (DAP - Batu Gajah) marriage would last (during a debate on rising divorce cases). [Malaysiakini, 15 May 2007]

You and I are well aware that sexist remarks are not jokes. They are offensive and distasteful. It's time to put a full stop to Sexism and Gender Discrimination in Parliament. You wouldn't want leaders who doesn't know how to respect women.

As we prepare to celebrate the International Women’s Day which falls on the same day of our General Election on March 8, make sure you exercise your constitutional rights to kick sexist MPs out of Parliament and send a strong message to them, that, we Malaysians do not tolerate sexism and gender discrimination!

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