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Women’s March harassment shows need for Gender Equality Act

LETTER | What happened in Kuala Lumpur after the Women’s March is exactly why conversations about gender equality continue, even in 2018.

Local newspapers reported that several women were harassed after the rally, held in conjunction with International Women’s Day.

While a group of men snatched their placards, the abuse ranged from fat shaming, transphobic comments to threats, according to reports.

A group of NGOs also lodged a police report just because a few women held placards calling for LGBT rights.

Such attacks against the rally participants and the continued demonising of the LGBT community are not acceptable.

It only goes to show how immature we are as a society and how regressive we are as a nation.

Therefore, it’s no surprise that at a recently-concluded meeting in Geneva, the committee that monitors implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination (Cedaw) that Malaysia has ratified, observed that we are yet to implement many concluding recommendations since 2006.

And the government delegation couldn’t answer many questions posed by them, clearly indicating a lack of progress on ending gender discrimination.

International Women’s Day celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievement of women.

It’s a day where we mark the significant roles played by women for a better workplace, society, home and nation.

Millions of people walked in marches all over the world as part of the ongoing fight for equality.

Here in Malaysia, hundreds of people marched to eliminate gender discrimination, destroy rape culture and sexual violence, strengthen rights for political space and democracy for all, strive for equal opportunities and wages, and stop destruction of the environment.

If we cannot respect and enact policies to implement these demands, then we cannot progress as a nation.

We need to have the political will to work towards the realisation of women's empowerment and gender equality.

We need to protect the rights and improve the lives of women and girls on the ground.

Mahatma Gandhi, India’s freedom fighter and activist, said that “of all the evils man has made himself responsible, none is so degrading, so shocking or so brutal as his abuse of the better half of humanity; the female sex.”

So let’s stop this show of testosterone against women. Instead let’s respect them and let’s create opportunities to empower women.

And Malaysia could start the ball rolling by enacting a Gender Equality Act.

CHARLES SANTIAGO is the MP for Klang.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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