LETTER | Malaysians have never shied away from our abuses on women’s rights. Collectively, as a nation-state, we have failed - almost miserably - when it comes to honouring our female counterparts.
Be it in the cases of allowing for substantive equality in representation, recognition or application of women’s rights, Malaysia seems to be lagging behind.
Our country is never short of examples when it comes to images after images of manuals as we brush aside allegations of oppression against the women in our most vulnerable groups: Orang Asli, refugees, stateless, as well as people with disabilities, and we take exploitation of our women as a normal state of being rather than a cause to be concerned with.
While the incumbent government has tried to change such a sorry state of affairs, regrettably even the government can only do so much. Respecting women is neither about allowing our female politicians to go on the street and demand for fairer election processes nor is it about allowing our feminist groups the mere right to advocate far and wide for better laws and policies.
When Malaysian society as a whole seems to be dismissing the voices of women within it, what laws and policies can be enforced or enacted to teach us the respect women need?
Respecting women is ensuring the voices of women are never dimmed and dismissed. Especially when there is a clear-cut allegation of violation.
Wafiq has been following news reports of Perak exco Paul Yong's alleged rape case involving his domestic helper with many worries. Since it was first reported in early July, to-date there seems to be very little progress made to update the public of its outcome.
It is even more worrying that recently, Perak police chief Razarudin Husain issued a statement calling the public to cease speculations on the case. Public interest on alleged wrongdoing of a public servant is a matter of public discussion. Curbing the same would only lead us to a caliginous path, where women’s rights continue to be denied in bright daylight.
As members of our Malaysian society, as taxpayers, as voters, and at the very least - as concerned citizens, we have every right to demand an answer. What is the signal the government, the police force and the public prosecutor are trying to send to the public?
Update us with the proper action taken at the very least, update us on the charted plans and strategies the government has taken to deal with this particular alleged transgression.
Or else, don’t ever deny us the right to question, publicly, the concerns that continue to roam in our minds: Is our safety mitigated by his freedom? Is he a predator that can harm other society members? Is he given special privileges because of his status as an assemblyperson and as a state exco member? Are our rights as women living in Malaysia less valuable than his right to freedom?
Tell us what would it take for rape victims to regain their honour when their aggressors are politicians. If it takes overthrowing a government before justice can be done, such was the case in Shahidan Kassim’s instance, then, by all means, tell us - the Malaysian women - that our safety is not protected when we have to deal with Malaysian male politicians. When the next election comes, we will surely remember to only vote women into offices to ensure our honour will never be taken as a plaything ever again.
An allegation of rape is not a simple matter. It involves the inherent trait of power play within it, the undeniable trauma that is caused to the victims and the cogent undermining of a woman’s safety and protection. It has taken the government three weeks to deal with this matter. Don’t let another three weeks pass before we can see a conclusion.
The writer is a lawyer and head of the Legal and Human Rights Bureau, International Women's Alliance for Family Institution and Quality Education (Wafiq).
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.