Archive for category women

Child marriage is another form of modern day slavery

Syerleena Abdul Rashid
April 7, 2016

Pasir Putih MP Nik Mazian Nik Mohamad made a mockery of our institution today, by opposing the ban of child marriages by justifying that “If we restrict them from getting married, (their) lust will remain, and they will be exposed to premarital casual sex”. Not only is this justification sexist, it is a huge blow to social justice and human rights in our country.

Child marriage is catastrophic. Common sense dictates that it is immoral and the response given by Nik Mazian, indicate the distressing deterioration of reason and logic in our present day society. According to UNICEF, approximately over ‘700 million women alive today were married as children’ and similar reports by the UN, estimate that between 2011 and 2020, over 140 million children – mostly, girls, will become child brides.

Although in Malaysia, the legal minimum age for marriage under civil law for both genders is 18, girls can marry at 16 under Islamic law – and sometimes even younger with the consent of the Syariah court. In 2014, the Malaysian Syariah Judiciary Department received roughly 600 marriage applications for couples below the age of consent and approximately 446 of these applications have been approved by the department. Read the rest of this entry »

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Happy International Women’s Day!

By Martin Jalleh

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Is there ever a positive side to beauty pageants?

Syerleena Abdul Rashid
The Malaysian Insider
22 January 2016

On a personal level, I have to admit, beauty pageants make me queasy because it sends out a pretty clear message that only beautiful women succeed in life.

Beauty pageants and other similar events where women are made to prance around all dolled up with fake smiles plastered on their faces have increasingly becoming more controversial.

The negative impacts it has will definitely resonate especially on young girls. Read the rest of this entry »

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Can Prime Minister and Cabinet end the greatest injustice in the Najib premiership – ensure Indira Gandhi’s re-union with her daughter within 48 hours after the Prime Minister, Cabinet, Parliament and Judiciary have failed her for seven years?

Tomorrow is the Cabinet’s weekly Wednesday meeting.

One of the issues the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak and the 36 Ministers in the Cabinet must wrestle with is what they could to end one of the greatest injustices in the Najib premiership of six year nine months – where a mother had been forcibly separated from her 11-month old baby daughter not for one or two years but for seven years!

The Prime Minister, the Cabinet, Parliament and the Judiciary have all failed Indira Gandhi and the Constitution, the laws, the courts and the system of governance have been manipulated to deny Indira her fundamental rights as a mother to see, hold and touch her daughter!

The same week that Najib became the sixth Prime Minister of Malaysia in April 2009, Indira found that her three children had without her knowledge or consent been unilaterally converted to Islam by her ex husband, who had converted to Islam a month earlier.

That started Indira’s long and still unending legal battle for control and custody of her three children. Read the rest of this entry »

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So you think sexist jokes are funny?

Syerleena Abdul Rashid
The Malaysian Insider
4 December 2015

Jokes are meant to make us laugh. Plain and simple, right?

By definition, a joke is made up of words within a particular and “well-defined narrative structure” designed to make people crack a smile and express some level of amusement.

Jokes can be simple or even complex. It can be a story, a one-liner, a pun, slapstick or utter nonsense. However, there are jokes that have the opposite effect; some jokes are tasteless, crude, offensive and lewd. These are the type of jokes that joke tellers ought to think twice before articulating. Read the rest of this entry »

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Purveyors of hate

– Sheela R
The Malaysian Insider
8 September 2015

Voices of hatred seem bent on gaining traction in our nation, with their exclusivist agenda. Sadly, history seems to have taught us little.

In the 1930s, the Nazis, obsessed with a vision of a racially pure society, employed a series of cunning strategies, to ensure the realisation of their goals. These included:

Reshaping intellectual and public perception through the banning of books, articles, magazines, newspapers, and public displays of burning literature that were deemed to be incompatible with Nazi ideals. Such literary materials were deemed to foster “liberal decay”. Read the rest of this entry »

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From a Shenzhen factory job to world’s richest self-made woman

by David Barboza
New York Times
July 30, 2015

How a Chinese Billionaire Built Her Fortune

Zhou Qunfei started out making watch lenses for $1 a day, but honed her hands-on knowledge into a world-class, multibillion-dollar operation at the vanguard of China’s push into high-end manufacturing.

Zhou Qunfei is the world’s richest self-made woman. Zhou, the founder of Lens Technology, owns a $27 million estate in Hong Kong. She jets off to Silicon Valley and Seoul to court executives at Apple and Samsung, her two biggest customers. She has played host to President Xi Jinping of China, when he visited her company’s headquarters.

But she seems most at home pacing the floor of her state-of-the-art factory, tinkering.

She’ll dip her hands into a tray of water, to determine whether the temperature is just right. She can explain the intricacies of heating glass in an ion potassium salt bath. When she passes a grinding machine, she is apt to ask technicians to step aside so she can take their place for a while.

Zhou knows the drill. For years, she labored in a factory, the best job she could get having grown up in an impoverished village in central China.

“She’ll sometimes sit down and work as an operator to see if there’s anything wrong with the process,” said James Zhao, a general manager at Lens Technology. “That will put me in a very awkward position. If there’s a problem, she’d say, ‘Why didn’t you see that?’ ” Read the rest of this entry »

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Permatang Pauh win shows M’sia ready for more women leaders

by Syerleena Abdul Rashid
Free Malaysia Today
May 9, 2015


The voters of Permatang Pauh have spoken. They have chosen dignity over conceit, honesty over corruption, coherence over illogic.

By now, Malaysians from all walks of life have heard of PKR President Wan Azizah Wan Ismail’s victory in the Permatang Pauh by-election. She won with a majority of 8,841 votes and defeated Barisan Nasional’s (BN) Suhaimi Sabudin. Her victory symbolises the yearning Malaysians have for much needed political reforms, ending tyrannical regimes, upholding social justice and above all, restoring democracy.

However for the women of this country, her triumphant return into Parliament symbolises a newfound hope that Malaysians are more than ready to discard traditionalist views and are keen on accepting women in leadership roles. Wan Azizah, herself, acknowledged how essential women’s roles are in supporting socio-political reform movements, “Women’s political, social and economic rights are an integral and inseparable part of their human rights”. Read the rest of this entry »

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Attack on Aisyah proves stupidity

By Mariam Mokhtar
Mar 23, 2015

It takes a brave Malay woman to say what the whole nation is thinking, and it is amazing how many Malay men cannot wait to show the world the ugly face of the Malay psyche.

The threats of physical violence and rape on BFM host Aisyah Tajudin, for her satirical take on the Kelantan hudud law, have proven that despite receiving the ‘best education in the world’, many Malays remain shallow, servile and seriously stupid. Only insecure, egotistical Malay men would feel threatened, not just by the truth, but by a woman, and worse still, a Malay woman.

The rakyat’s problem is that Malaysia’s religious men aspire to become politicians, and its politicians pretend to be religious men.

The latest hudud debacle has very little to do with religion. It is about power. Power over the Malays in Malaysia. Power to overcome any non-Malay resistance. And power to crush any opposition, especially from progressive Malays, who represent the biggest threat. Read the rest of this entry »

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Take action against those who make threats online

– Syerleena Abdul Rashid
The Malaysian Insider
21 March 2015

“I want to meet her too… I haven’t punched anyone in a long time… Who cares if anyone calls me a cuckold for hitting a woman… she should die.”

Above is one of the many comments targeted at Aisyah Tajuddin. I have one simple question to ask: does this comment enrage you? If it doesn’t, then you are misogynistic, which simply means you hate women. If you don’t understand what misogyny is and find the video anti-Islamic without even viewing the entire video, then that simply means you suffer from a deficit of intellectualism and that, my friend, can lead to destructive consequences.

The BFM video that sparked a mass hysteria of misplaced vitriol showcased the ugliness of the Malay/Muslim siege mentality. The video has since been taken down but the after-effects that continue to linger will forever haunt the rest of us. The numerous hate-filled threats on social media solidify the fact that online misogyny is equally disturbing and must be taken seriously. What makes these comments worse is the anonymity cyberspace provides for these cyber-bigots to troll around ruthlessly. Read the rest of this entry »

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Dyana Sofya hits back at critics over photo in women’s magazine

by Melati A Jalil
The Malaysian Insider
18 March 2015

DAP’s Dyana Sofya Mohd Daud hit back at her critics today, saying that a change in mindset is needed if people still associate bed with sex.

The former Teluk Intan by-election candidate recently received heavy criticism for taking part in a magazine photoshoot to raise awareness on violence against women.

She had posed on a bed for the campaign, called “Wake Up To A Good Cause” which aims to collect donations for Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO).

Her critics, which included the likes of Puteri Umno and social media users were quick to attack her, saying that it was a shameful act and young women should not pose “like that” to attract attention.

Dyana said it is this type of mindset that needed to be changed if people can misinterpret a message she was trying to sent through the photoshoot.

“If you see a bed, and you don’t think of sleep but of sex, then there is something wrong with you.

“There is nothing wrong with the photo, (but) there’s definitely something wrong with your mindset. It is this kind of mindset that we are combating against,” Dyana said. Read the rest of this entry »

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It’s time for women to liberate women

– Dyana Sofya
The Malaysian Insider
8 March 2015

The ‘Wake Up To A Good Cause’ campaign by Marie Claire Malaysia and the Women’s Aid Organisation is meant to raise awareness and give every woman who has ever suffered abuse a voice while raising funds for one of the country’s most established NGOs dedicated to empowering abused women.

One in every three women in this world have suffered from some form of abuse. Meanwhile, about 39% of Malaysian women have been physically, mentally or emotionally abused. Although physical abuse is usually more obvious, the same can’t be said for mental and emotional abuse.

Ironically, even this very campaign to end violence and abuse against women has found itself the target of online abuse in the social media by certain quarters. An uproar has erupted in the last few days over the campaign simply because it depicts pictures of women posing as if they had just gotten out of bed. I am not sure about some, but I am sure everyone else sleeps in a bed.

Instead of focusing on the purpose of the campaign, these “abusers” prefer to denigrate women who are working towards a good cause. Strangely enough, some of these comments even come from women themselves. Read the rest of this entry »

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A woman’s letter to the men of Malaysia

By Aidila Razak
Mar 3, 2015

COMMENT Dear men of Malaysia,

In 2012, a woman in Delhi was brutally raped and murdered in a bus after an evening out with a friend. Her rapist is now on death row.

The story of this young woman, Jyoti Singh, 23, resonated across the globe – and when it hogged Malaysian social media, I didn’t read a single comment saying she had it coming.

Her rapist and murderer however thinks she did.

Awaiting the hangman’s noose, Mukesh Singh in a BBC interview which will air this Sunday said that Jyoti, whom he and his friends took turns to savage was to blame for the injuries which led to her death.

A woman out at night is inviting trouble, he said, and when it happened she should have just laid there instead of fighting back.

I would like to think that you, the Malaysian male, do not think the same, but reading the reactions that came out of a recent Friday sermon about women who don’t cover their aurat does make me wonder. Read the rest of this entry »

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Dear Ridhuan Tee

― Shafiqah Othman
The Malay Mail Online
FEBRUARY 17, 2015

FEBRUARY 17 ― Your blatant disrespect for other faiths (or people) increasingly infuriates me and I cannot help but finally pen this down. I have, in many occasions, dismissed your rude statements, but it has come to a point where I no longer can stand your nonsense.

Don’t get me wrong, I am all for freedom of speech. By all means, go ahead, run amok and pollute Malaysian minds with your ignorance, but that also means I should be able to speak against the trash that I think you are spouting.

First, what you said on women’s bodies was just plain disturbing.

You say that women’s bodies attracts rapists because “the logic is simple”. Women’s bodies are arousing and alluring. Then you go on to say “If it’s fated that many of those who cover their ‘aurat’ are raped, then it’s fate”, and the only reason loosely-clothed woman are more commonly raped is because their article of clothing is more easily removed as compared to tight clothing.

Are you serious? The fallacies in your logic are mind-blowing, sir! I don’t mean to be the one to point this all out to you, but please: Read the rest of this entry »

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Baggy clothes didn’t stop my rapist, victim tells Ridhuan Tee

The Malay Mail Online
February 24, 2015

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 24 — Baggy jeans and a loose T-shirt did not prevent her sexual assault in 2001, rape survivor Rosheen Fatima told controversial columnist Ridhuan Tee Abdullah who claimed that women’s bodies attract rapists.

In an article titled “My body is not an invitation” published on the website of women’s magazine Elle Malaysia, Rosheen insisted that there is no justification for rape and said Tee was merely engaging in victim-blaming.

“Shame on you, Ridhuan Tee. Put the blame where it belongs. There is only one thing that causes rape: rapists,” Rosheen said.

“Rapists make a choice to rape. There is no invitation, no fate that intervenes. It is a choice to rape. A choice to brutally assault and traumatise a fellow human being. There is no justification. Ever,” she added. Read the rest of this entry »

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Ridhuan, if this happens to your little girl would you fault her body for rape?

― Zhu Mohammad
The Malay Mail Online
February 27

FEBRUARY 27 ― Su-Lyn, I read your column and am outraged by Ridhuan Tee’s comment that a woman’s body on its own is an invitation to rape. I feel compelled to tell my story; like you, I didn’t manage to report it to the police because it happened when I was 12 years old.

Like a lot of kids at that age who are attached to their grandparents, I was to my grandfather on my father’s side, who I think at that time was about 67 or so.

I was sort of his favourite grandchild, and I enjoyed his attention. We used to sleep together, with my other siblings too.

One thing that he used to do when i was laying down next to him was that he would fondle my intimate areas. But I didn’t understand any of it, and didn’t resist.

It was this particular night, when I was awakened as he was forcing himself on me. I froze, and let the whole thing go on until he was finished. I don’t know whether he was aware that I was awake at that time, because soon after he went to sleep. Read the rest of this entry »

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Don’t ever use religion to justify caning women

Syerleena Abdul Rashid
The Malaysian Insider
30 January 2015

So apparently, there are some men who think that it is completely acceptable to cane women as a measure to reprimand her of her duties as a woman.

Most Malaysians are aware that we live in a patriarchal society, a system that favours men and disregards the significance of the opposite gender.

Understandably, certain ancient religious scriptures may highlight verses that may come across as permitting a husband to “strike lightly”.

A few days ago, a local daily reported that an influential individual expressed his thoughts on the matter. “Husbands are allowed to hit their wives for the purpose of teaching without the intention to hurt them or disgrace them. This method, however, should be the last resort after all other methods fail, including reprimanding her and sleeping separately,” he said. Read the rest of this entry »

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Rising above patriarchal politics

Syerleena Abdul Rashid
The Malaysian Insider
9 January 2015

There is something quite intimidating about politics that seems to deter a lot of capable Malaysian women from getting involved. Generally speaking, women are more vulnerable to attacks, smear campaigns and negative stereotypes as Malaysian society is still somewhat receptive towards patriarchal institutions and social relations. As a result, women are often regarded as inferior and worthy of only complimenting the masculine form.

Our Asian cultural values consent to a system that often regards men as the “protector” of society and family, which itself can sometimes be difficult to challenge although social reforms that are consistent and relevant to modern society are not entirely impossible.

2015 will present Malaysians with a chance to improve our nation’s standing in terms of women empowerment and advancing gender balanced policies. Supporting women’s rights is definitely a long-term agenda that demands thorough analysis, responsiveness and ambition as well as robust strategies that can strengthen progression while engaging all levels of society. Of course, empowerment can mean many things – power, participation, ability, autonomy, decision and freedom – but core fundamental values such as dignity, integrity, respect and self-esteem are highly respected and accepted by everyone. Read the rest of this entry »

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Purging misogyny from Malaysian politics

By Syerleena Abdul Rashid
Jan 7, 2015

DAP made Malaysian history last month, by setting a minimum 30 percent women’s quota at the central executive committee (CEC) level. Many regard this as a positive step that will encourage more women to participate in politics, especially at decision-making levels.

Wanita DAP chief Chong Eng aptly described it as “an important step to begin paving the way for more women leaders, and thus policies that are reflective of women’s interests”.

Sadly, both PKR and PAS are still lagging in terms of women representation in politics. Even though PKR amended its constitution in 2009, which included a 30 percent quota for women representation at all levels, the party has yet to achieve this.

Meanwhile according to PAS’ Dr Siti Mariah Mahmud, PAS’ men leaders and part of the women leaders “are not ready to impose such a quota” – even if this was the wish of the party’s women’s wing.

Such reports are upsetting, but change is not impossible. The role of women in local politics must be given greater emphasis, and this can only been done by changing the mindset of our society.

I concur with Wanita PKR chief Zuraida Kamaruddin’s statement that although the party – and to an extent, the Pakatan Rakyat coalition – has successfully attracted numerous capable women, unfortunately, quite a number of women are still somewhat reluctant to “step up” and take on leadership roles. Read the rest of this entry »

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Including both genders at work is paramount for a high income nation

— Syerleena Abdul Rashid
Malay Mail Online
December 18, 2014

DECEMBER 18 — Contrary to Isma’s beliefs, Malaysia will never achieve a high-income nation or even a developed nation status, if gender stereotypes continue to perpetuate our society, especially in matters that concerns the economy and honoring basic human rights. Their idea of solely depending on men as breadwinners and reducing women to child rearing duties is defective and discriminating to all Malaysians – regardless of gender.

The statement made by Dr Nur Farrah Nadia Najib, who heads the group’s family and society bureau, “A high income nation must not rely on women as the major contributor but rather men should lead the workforce and put their biggest effort in shaping the nation” is flawed as it demoralises the struggles Malaysian women work so hard to overcome.

Climbing the corporate ladder and pushing for equal pay has always been important issues for women’s rights advocacy and it is a continuous work in progress which needs support from the all levels of our society. There is no denying that education plays a crucial role in setting the template of success and attainment but even though, the number of women enrolled in tertiary institutions is currently higher than men, the opportunities for women to progress in the local workforce are different. To some extent, these opportunities may not even exist at all.

However, encouraging women to participate in the workforce is not enough. There must be pro-active measures by the government to guarantee that half of this country’s populations’ skills and talents are fully utilised in order to spur positive economic growth. Having more women at work can only be advantageous to our country, as differing perspectives supports diversity and innovation which are key dynamics needed to compete in an increasingly competitive globalised economy. Read the rest of this entry »

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