Marina accuses Mujahid, Wan Saiful of 'misogyny' over Women's March remarks
Published:  Mar 10, 2019 7:21 AM
Updated: Mar 9, 2021 4:14 AM

Marina Mahathir has accused Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Mujahid Yusof Rawa and Bersatu supreme council member Wan Saiful Wan Jan of trying to distract from the demands made at yesterday’s Women’s March by focusing solely on the presence of LGBT participants.

“I’m calling you out Wan Saiful and Mujahid. You are trying to distract from addressing very real women’s issues by focusing on only one of many demands at the Women’s March. Shame on you,” read one tweet from the social activist, which was accompanied with the hashtags #Misogyny and #You'reADisgrace.

"I'm really beginning to believe that men really believe that women’s issues are trivial, and that’s why they will find any excuse to not respond to demands to address anything that truly affects women. It’s called misogyny!

“And to think we women’s groups campaigned and voted for you,” read another.

The hundreds, who gathered in downtown Kuala Lumpur for the Women's March yesterday, made five key demands – an end to violence based on gender and sexual orientation; a ban on child marriages; ensuring women's rights over their own bodies and lives; an RM1,800 minimum wage; and the destruction of the patriarchy.

After the march, Mujahid, who oversees the Islamic affairs portfolio, expressed his shock that it was used to defend LGBT rights, and termed it an abuse of democracy.

"As I have said before, the government is firm that LGBT practices will never be accepted in this country. It is impossible for us to acknowledge something illegal," he said in a Facebook post.

Wan Saiful, meanwhile, said in a statement the LGBT community's call for equal rights at the Women's March was “menjengkelkan (irksome)”.

“The struggle to fight for the rights of women is something respectable, a noble cause that should be supported.

“But mixing this noble agenda with the LGBT agenda is a provocation (that affects) national stability. It has to be rejected by all parties,” he said.

The march organisers today restated the five demands, which they said were overshadowed by the “moral panic” over the presence of LGBT participants at the demonstration.

‘Disproportionate reporting’

On a similar note, the Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) took aim at the “disproportionate” focus on LGBT issues in Utusan Malaysia and Sinar Harian's reporting of the Women’s March.

In particular, the CIJ took issue with the usage of the words “cemar (pollute)" and “suntik (inject)” in the headlines used by the two Malay-language dailies.

“The sensational manner in which Utusan and Sinar reported the march, their demonisation of the LGBTIQ community and their allies, have led to strong statements by individuals in positions of authority to call for broad-based rejection and opposition to the rights of LGBTIQ persons.

“In doing so, the newspapers were neglecting their duty of fair reporting, and appear to have been deliberately inciting hatred towards an already marginalised and at-risk community.

“Fair reporting would have included the participation of and support for the LGBTIQ persons, but not have focused on or sensationalised this aspect of the march,” it said in a statement.

The “sensationalised” reporting, CIJ said, not only led to politicians like Mujahid condemning the march, but also to the launching of a campaign for police reports to be lodged against purported organisers Women's Aid Organisation and Sisters in Islam.

Both organisations have denied being on the organising committee.

CIJ also called the response to the LGBT community's demands for equality a clear test of the Pakatan Harapan government’s commitment to freedom of expression.

'All quarters get to express views'

Meanwhile, electoral reform group Bersih reminded Muhajid that democracy meant allowing all quarters to express their views and concerns.

"One need not agree with all the views expressed or issues championed, but one should seek to listen and understand even if after doing so, one disagrees. 

"As a minister of a democratic government, Mujahid should not restrict or condemn any groups that wish to highlight their concerns," the Bersih steering committee said in a statement today.

Bersih noted that previously, there had also been rallies defending the Prophet Muhammad and for Malays to rise up.

"We commend the Harapan government for allowing and facilitating such gatherings without intimidation," it said.

The group said, however, that it was appalled by Mujahid's claim that the rally did not have a permit.

"We wish to remind the minister that Harapan has promised to abolish draconian provisions in the Peaceful Assembly Act and Penal Code on peaceful assembly."


A guide to what happened at the Women’s March

'Backlash against Women’s March distracts from key demands'

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