A MALAYSIAN member of parliament has called the country “immature” and “regressive” after a number of women were harassed and threatened after a rally to mark International Women’s Day.
“Such attacks against the rally participants and the continued demonising of the LGBT community are not acceptable,” said Charles Santiago in an open letter published on his Facebook page.
“It only goes to show how immature we are as a society and how regressive we are as a nation.”
Participants of the Women’s March faced online abuse, including fat shaming, transphobic comments and threats of violence. The attacks were documented by feminist organisation AWAM Malaysia, who is now offering counselling to any people affected by the “hate” being directed at women on social media.
CW rape culture, bodyshaming, misogyny
— AWAM Malaysia (@AWAMMalaysia) March 10, 2018
Several protestors were accosted on their way back to their car after the rally by a man shouting he was against LGBT rights. Video of the assault surfaced online shows the man chasing down the six people and taking their placards.
“We are anti-LGBT. We are against LGBT, Allahuakbar,” the man shouted as he followed the protestors.
“LGBT is not allowed in Malaysia. We are not a liberal country.”
[Video taken down from Facebook]
Peserta #WomensMarchMY DIBURU dan DISERBU lelaki2 yg mengaku di Facebook sbg NGO pro-kerajaan, atas sebab “anti-liberalisme” dan “anti-LGBT.”
Mereka video serangan mereka dgn bangga sbb mereka konfiden akan dilindung oleh kerajaan. pic.twitter.com/0HiWdmdhDN
— Juana Jaafar ✊🏾 (@juanajaafar) March 11, 2018
According to a Facebook post which has since been removed, the men also lodged a police report in protest against the “illegal” gathering yesterday, which was attended by those who he termed “liberal pro-LGBT.”
About 150 people took to the streets of the capital Kuala Lumpur on Saturday to reclaim their space and champion five key demands, namely the elimination of gender discrimination; an end to rape culture and sexual violence; equal opportunities and wages; strengthening women’s participation in politics and democracy for all; and stopping the destruction of the environment.
Found it. This group snatched placards from #WomensMarchMY participants. They say they were “pro-LGBT”. The irony is that none of the signs they seized, that I can read, imply anything like that. pic.twitter.com/ppsXWDo6Mv
— Sumisha Naidu (@SumishaCNA) March 10, 2018
Santiago said if Malaysia is unable to respect and enact policies to make these demands a reality, then “we cannot progress as a nation.”
He accused the government of having a lack of progress on ending gender discrimination, highlighting their recent poor review at the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination (CEDAW) in Geneva.
The MP for Klang urged the government to work towards equality and called on all people to “protect the rights and improve the lives” of women and girls.
“Let’s stop this show of testosterone against women. Instead let’s respect them and let’s create opportunities to empower women.”