Gender inequality, discrimination against minorities still rife, Comango reports

Source: The Malay Mail

(From left) Executive director of EMPOWER, Angela M. Kuga Thas, Advocacy and Capacity-building officer EMPOWER, Rizal Rozhan, executive director of Suaram, Sevan Doraisamy, and Migration Working Group (MWG) coordinator, Bina Ramanand, hold copies of the Comango UPR Stakeholder Report. — Picture by Hari Anggara

KUALA LUMPUR, June 7 — In its report to the United Nations (UN) launched today, a coalition of local NGOs highlighted the continued rampancy of gender inequality and discriminations over religion, race, sexual orientation and gender identity, rights of the Orang Asli, and disabilities here.The report by Comango, which tracks progress in the field of human rights in Malaysia since the last UN’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR), specifically highlighted the country’s dismal performance at the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (Cedaw) review earlier this year.

“The Cedaw Committee’s questions on matters that violate Muslim women’s rights were attacked by government-linked, Malaysian Alliance of Civil Society Organisations in the UPR Process (Macsa) and the Centre for Human Rights Research and Advocacy (Centhra), both of which adhere to the Islamic human rights framework of the Cairo Declaration and therefore, reject gender equality.

“They and government officials claimed that female genital mutilation or cutting, whipping, polygamy, and women’s and girls’ unequal inheritance are non-issues in Malaysia,” said the report launched today. Read more

Appeal to advance women’s rights in Malaysia — Suhakam

Source: The Malay Mail Online

MARCH 7 — On International Women’s Day 2018, the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) would like to reiterate that the government take concrete steps to advance fully women’s rights in Malaysia and to treat gender mainstreaming as a matter of national priority, which the government delegation indicated is not the situation during Malaysia’s recent review by the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (Cedaw), despite gender equality being a key component of the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development.

Although considerable progress has been made in improving the situation of women in Malaysia, developments have been uneven, and there have also been many setbacks. Making matters worse was Malaysia’s poor performance during the review by the committee composed of 23 experts, including Muslim experts on women’s issues.

Malaysia faced a barrage of challenging questions which it failed to adequately address, and this in Suhakam’s view is an indication that Malaysia is clearly out of step with internationally accepted norms in regard to women’s rights and non-discrimination. Read more

Policing women’s bodies in Malaysia — Fifa Rahman & Azrul Mohd Khalib

Source: The Malay Mail Online


SEPTEMBER 5 — Of late, it seems like everyone has been giving their opinion as to whether or not a woman should cover up and to what degree. Some have even gone to the extent of legislating a ban on a specific type of clothing, believing that to wear the latter would be representative of support for terrorism and violent extremism.

We have seen burly armed members of the French police surround a woman on a Nice beach forcing her to take off her burkini, an outfit apparently not “respecting good morals and secularism”. The resulting controversy and outcry against such discriminatory behaviour by a state institution continues to reverberate throughout Europe.

Not since the invention of the bikini has a female garment caused such consternation, distress and public debate.

On this side of the world, those from the religious quarter or those who consider themselves better Muslims and self-anointed “defenders of the faith”, are busy slut-shaming those who decide to not cover up and are also determining for women what is acceptable clothing to wear in public. Therein is marked hypocrisy.

Most of the debates in Malaysia seem to centre around the hijab, skirt length and what constitutes acceptable female attire. Moral policing of women, in particular, seems to be a favourite pastime. Read more

Bumped off the career path

Source: NST Online

File pic — AFP

File pic — AFP

WOMEN still face challenges and unfair treatment at the workplace when they become pregnant, according to a recent survey by the Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO).

The online poll, called the Workplace Discrimination Survey, polled 222 women from across the country to shed light on workplace discrimination against pregnant women.

More than 40 per cent of those polled admitted to having experienced job discrimination due to their pregnancy. The survey also revealed the top five ways employers discriminated against pregnant women. These included measures such as making their positions redundant, denying them promotions, placing them on prolonged probation, demoting them and terminating their jobs.

WAO launched the survey to promote respect, protection and equal rights for women in the workplace, specifically for pregnant women.

A woman should be free to choose if and when to have children says Sumitra Visvanathan, executive director of WAO. Read more

Closing the gaps in the law — Joint Action Group for Gender Equality

Source: The Malay Mail Online

AUG 26 — On Hari Wanita, the Joint Action Group for Gender Equality (JAG) urges the Malaysian government to close the gaps in our domestic laws that obstruct the elimination of violence against women and girls and the achievement of gender equality in our country, which remain yet unrealized goals.

Even after years of civil society expending critical resources in educating and engaging with policymakers, words have not materialised into concrete actions, and women and girls are still regularly subjected to violence and discrimination, with limited recourse in the law. It is time for all MPs to demonstrate their commitment to eliminating the gender gap and bringing about equality in our society by supporting the law reform initiatives that JAG has been lobbying for consistently over the past decade. Read more

‘Appointment of women judges should set an example’

Source: The Star Online

Noor Huda Roslan, who was recently appointed Syariah High Court judge in Selangor. Pic taken from The Star Online.

Noor Huda Roslan, who was recently appointed Syariah High Court judge in Selangor. Pic taken from The Star Online.

KUALA LUMPUR: The appointment of women as High Court judges in the Selangor Syariah Court should pave the way for other states to do the same.

This was the view of the experts at a “Seminar on Women as Judges and Leaders” on Tuesday, organised by the International Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies (IAIS) and the Selangor Syariah Judiciary Department (Jakess) here.

IAIS founder and chief executive officer Prof Dr Hashim Kamali said the role of women was not just mentioned in the Quran and hadith (sayings of Prophet Muhammad) but also in the customs and practices of society at different times.

“Right now we have in the Muslim world, many different types of customs and practices; tribalist culture is still very strong in many parts of the world and in those parts it’s not just religion that determines the way women play their role in society and how they are treated.

“Our history is also dominated by male superiority. It has been a reality and we are still with it.

“But the role of women as evidenced in the Quran and Sunnah (practices of Prophet Muhammad) is a vision that is well distinguished, articulated in many passages in the Quran and which has found some support also in the Sunnah.” Read more

Judicial appointments mark a positive step

Source: The Star Online

KUALA LUMPUR: “This is (one of) the signs of the end of the world.”

That was one of the messages Prof Datin Dr Raihanah Abdullah received on social media when news of the appointment of two women to the Selangor Syariah High Court became public.

Happily, that was the only negative one, she said, laughing as she related her experience to participants of the “Seminar on Women as Judges & Leaders” on Tuesday.

“Maybe if, one day, a woman is appointed a syariah chief judge of a state I’ll get more like that one,” said the dean of the Humanitarian Research Cluster at Universiti Malaya to more laughter.

The half-day seminar by the International Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies (IAIS) at its office in Jalan Elmu here was in cooperation with the Selangor Syariah Judiciary Department (Jakess), following the appointment of nine women to the Syariah Court by Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah on June 27.

Noor Huda Roslan, 40, and Nenney Shuhaidah Shamsuddin, 41, were appointed to the Syariah High Court and seven others were appointed as subordinate court judges. Read more

Crackdown on dissent obscures women’s rights


As rollback on rights gains headlines, Malaysian gender equality loses ground

Crackdown on dissent obscures women's rights

Malaysian gymnast Farah Ann Abdul Hadi came under fire last year for wearing a leotard at the Southeast Asia Games. Women’s rights have eroded in Malaysia amid a wider crackdown on rights and freedom. (Photo by AFP)

March 8, 2016 — The promise of gender equality in Malaysia was closer in 2006 than it is now.

A World Economic Forum chart shows that over the last decade the country’s ranking dropped from 72 in 2006 to 111 in 2015, a fall of 39 places.

An ongoing crackdown on all forms of dissent in the country has pushed women’s issues into the background.

Prominent women activists have all been targeted for their outspokenness.

Among them are Jannie Lasimbang, a former commissioner of the National Human Rights Commission of Malaysia, Maria Chin Abdullah, a civil rights leader, and Ambiga Sreenevasan, a former Malaysian Bar Council president.

All have spoken out against sexism, at times taking their case directly to the public.

But change is coming at glacial speeds. Read more

Malaysia 50-50 by 2030: How do we get there? — Michelle Gyles-McDonnough

Source: The Malay Mail Online


MARCH 9 — This year’s International Women’s Day marks the first after UN member states ushered in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in September 2015. The new agenda is based on 17 goals, including a stand-alone goal to empower women and girls and achieve gender equality (SDG 5) by 2030.

International Women’s Day is an opportunity to celebrate advances in the gender landscape in Malaysia and chart a path for further progress as we look to 2030, building on current achievements.  Malaysia performed well against Millennium Development Goal (MDG) targets, achieving gender parity in primary, secondary and tertiary education by the 2015 deadline. Literacy rates, based on school attendance, for males and females are also close to 100 per cent.

Having assumed now more ambitious gender equality targets under the SDGs and Vision 2020, it is time to step up the effort for a Malaysia 50-50, where women and girls are empowered and we put an end to all forms of discrimination against women and girls.  Read more

Minister: We don’t need laws to achieve gender equality

Source: The Star Online

KUCHING: Malaysia will continue to use persuasion rather than law or quotas to improve gender equality, says Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Rohani Abdul Karim.

For instance, she said there were policies to increase women’s involvement in the workplace and had at least 30% women in decision-making positions.

“For us, persuasive methods are more effective in the long run as we prefer to achieve our aims through cooperation and collaboration.

“We can have laws but I see that what we are doing now through our policies and programmes are proceeding well,” she said at the International Women’s Day celebration at The Spring shopping mall here yesterday. Read more