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.

One such example is the statement by Puteri Umno, whose information chief Haryaty Hamzah condemned my taking part in the photo shoot by saying that it was “obscene” to “exploit my body” for the cause.

Such a comment from a wing that is supposed to represent young, professional women in Umno is extremely disappointing, as the photos of the women featured in the shoot were far from suggestive and no different from what is seen in everyday advertising. Is she suggesting that women are not allowed to take decent and creative photos to promote causes that help women? Such campaigns are not restricted to models only as the organisers sought to feature inspirational women.

Obviously, Puteri Umno prefers to judge a book by its cover, and by doing so only further oppress women rather than liberate them. If innocent and unrevealing photos suggest inappropriate behaviour to them, then perhaps it is they who are the problem. It is such a shame that they cannot channel their resources and energy into raising awareness and helping to solve real women’s issues instead of disparaging those who are actually trying to contribute to a good cause.

Unless we break out of the patriarchy and chauvinism that currently pervades our society, we will never truly empower the better half of our population. Any attempt to silence such efforts is only regressive. Take for example, India’s banning of the controversial BBC documentary, India’s Daughter, about the gang-rape and murder of a young girl in Delhi. In the film, one of the men convicted and sentenced to death for the 2012 rape and murder had said “a girl is far more responsible for rape than a boy”. Such a statement may appear shocking, but the truth is that such attitudes are far more commonplace than we may like to think.

Closer to home, controversial columnist Ridhuan Tee made a similar comment in an article he wrote last month, in which he said that women were motivating men to commit rape by “exposing and flaunting” their bodies. It is exactly this kind of disrespect for women that we need to combat and eradicate. However, we will never do so if women themselves do not respect and take ownership of their own bodies.

As for the documentary, the ban by the Indian government actually prompted the BBC to air the documentary earlier than planned, as it felt that the film represented “an important account of an event that galvanised Indian opinion to ensure such tragedies are not repeated”. I commend the BBC for putting their foot down on the issue, because until and unless violence against women is exposed, we will never address this problem that has become endemic in our part of the world.

I would suggest that my sisters in Puteri Umno could learn a thing or two from watching the documentary themselves. Perhaps after doing so they may learn the need to respect and protect women’s rights in order to help create a society that is free from violence against women.

Happy International Women’s Day! – March 8, 2015

  1. #1 by Sallang on Tuesday, 10 March 2015 - 9:23 am

    All humans are created equal.
    Females are born with features with purposes. Without which, males cannot have off springs.
    Males are born with a feature for only one purpose.
    However, all males are potential rapists, because they can hit and run.While women have to carry the burden for 9 months, and caring for years ahead.
    Thats why, ancient Chinese emperors castrate male palace workers, to protect concubines.
    Otherwise they can’t wait for ‘malam jumaat’.

    • #2 by cemerlang on Tuesday, 10 March 2015 - 10:25 pm

      While certain quarters of the female population are asking for liberation, certain other quarters are asking for suppression. So what do women really want, given their natural emotional crisis from time to time ? Do they want to liberate women ? All women ? Some women ? Or do they want to be powerful whilst others become the followers ?

  2. #3 by good coolie on Thursday, 12 March 2015 - 12:07 am

    Some of us are rowing against the tide of change. We are confused, like our friend Ridhuan Tee is.

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