LETTER | The Joint Action Group for Gender Equality (JAG) condemns the actions of Umno leaders and supporters who physically and verbally harassed two female journalists on March 22.
Both 25-year-old journalists are students and were carrying out their jobs as intern reporters for Malaysiakini at former premier Najib Abdul Razak’s meet and greet session at University Malaya.
We are especially horrified by the offensive behaviour of Petaling Jaya Selatan Umno chief Mutalib Abdul Rahim and Umno supreme council member Lokman Noor Adam, whose aggressive behaviour resulted in actual physical injury to one of the women, resulting in a chipped bone in her thumb.
This is not discounting the emotional trauma experienced by both women.
Mutalib and Lokman’s irresponsible acts must not go unchecked and JAG calls for swift and stern action to be taken against them and the other perpetrators who harassed the two female journalists.
As senior politicians, their behaviour sends an alarming message that the infliction of physical and verbal harassment on journalists and peaceful protesters is acceptable, especially when they are female.
It is alarming to note that verbal, physical and emotional abuse against women in Malaysia is not treated with the seriousness that it deserves.
This was clearly highlighted when authorities chose to question the rights of the organisers of the International Women Day’s march this year in Malaysia, rather than acting to curb and deter the backlash of abuse against the protesters.
This one-sided response from the authorities conveys the message that abuse against women is acceptable and will go unpunished.
The lack of appropriate response from the authorities, especially the police force, in curbing gender-based violence, will only serve to encourage similar negative behaviour, as can be seen from the actions of the Umno politicians four days ago.
Gender-based violence should not be allowed to happen. It is a human rights violation.
It is not only up to women’s groups to create awareness of stopping violence against women. It requires a concentrated effort of all stakeholders. Government officials especially have the responsibility, through their speech and actions, to send out the right message.
JAG strongly demands that the Malaysian Government and Polis DiRaja Malaysia ensure that justice is served swiftly and take the necessary steps to stop this alarming trend of verbal and physical abuse against women.
The above is endorsed by the following JAG organisations:
All Women’s Action Society (Awam)
Association of Women Lawyers (AWL)
Justice for Sisters (JFS)
Perak Women for Women Society (PWW)
Sisters in Islam (SIS)
Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO)
Sabah Women’s Action-Resource Group (SAWO)
Persatuan Sahabat Wanita Selangor (PSWS)
Foreign Spouses Support Group (FSSG)
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.