MALAYSIANS have never shied away from our abuses of women’s rights.
But collectively, we have failed, when it comes to honouring our women.
Be it the case of allowing for equality in representation or recognition 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 manels (all-male panel), and we brush aside allegations of oppression against women in our most vulnerable sections of society: Orang Asli, refugees, the stateless and the disabled.
We take exploitation of our women as the norm rather than something we should be concerned about.
While the government has tried to change such a sorry state of affairs, it can only do so much.
Respecting women is neither about allowing our female politicians to go on the streets and demand for fairer election process nor is it about allowing our feminist groups the right to advocate for better laws and policies.
When society seems to be dismissing the voices of women, what laws and policies can be enforced or enacted to teach us to respect women’s needs?
Respecting women means ensuring the voices of women are never dismissed, especially when there is a clear-cut case of violation.
Women’s Alliance for Family Institution and Quality Education is upset by recent news reports of a Perak executive councillor’s alleged rape of his domestic helper.
Since it was first reported early last month, there seems little progress made in the investigation.
It is alarming that the Perak police chief recently urged the public to stop speculations on the case.
Public interest on an alleged wrongdoing of a politician is a matter of public discussion.
Curbing it would only lead us to a caliginous path where women’s rights continue to be denied.
As members of society, taxpayers and voters, we have every right to demand an answer.
Why is a man, tainted by a serious allegation of transgression, allowed to continue without so much as a consequence?
Update us with the progress of the investigation, action to be taken, and the plans and strategies the government has taken to deal with this transgression.
Don’t deny us the right to question publicly.
Is our safety compromised by his freedom?
Is he a predator who can harm women?
Is he given special privileges because of his status as an assemblyman and a state exco member?
Are our rights as women less valuable than his rights to freedom?
Tell us what it takes for rape victims to regain their honour when their aggressors are politicians?
Tell us that our safety is compromised when we have to deal with politicians.
When the next election comes, we should vote only women into office to ensure that our honour will never be treated as a plaything again.
An allegation of rape is no simple matter.
It involves the inherent traits of power play within it, the trauma that is caused to the victims and the undermining of a woman’s safety and protection.
It has taken the authorities three weeks to deal with this matter.
Lawyer and head of Legal and Human Rights Bureau, International Women’s Alliance for Family Institution and Quality Education