Redeem lost time, Minister!

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Steven Sim reminds new Minister for Women, Family and Community Development Rohani Abdul Karim that a lot of hope is placed on her to improve the lives not only of Penans but also of Malaysian women in general.

Minister Rohani Abdul Karim
Minister Rohani Abdul Karim

Today I saw a news report on how the government has yet to address the problems faced by our Penan brothers and sisters in Sarawak even after the publication of a report by the national taskforce four years ago highlighting their plight.

The Penan women especially are still waiting for federal government intervention on issues ranging from sexual abuses to basic amenities to citizenship. They visited Kuala Lumpur this week to seek help from the newly minted Minister for Women, Family and Community Development, Rohani Abdul Karim.

The Minister should realise that a lot of hope is placed on her to improve the lives not only of Penans but also of Malaysian women in general. The last three Ministers holding the post, namely Ng Yen Yen, Shahrizat Abdul Jalil and Prime Minister Najib Razak, have all failed to address important issues pertaining to women and family development.

Rohani therefore has a lot of chasing up to do, to make up for the lost time wasted during the helm of the three former Ministers. I have listed below seven urgent points to remind her of some of the long overdue matters she should immediately take note of. They are:

  1. Failure to achieve CEDAW objective of 30 per cent women representation in decision-making positions. The 13th Parliament convening next week will actually see a reduced number of women members;
  2. The low rate of rape cases brought to trial, a report by Awam showed only 1 in 10 cases are brought to trial and the difficulty to convict in a rape case – only 4-6 per cent of the cases tried are convicted;
  3. The promised register for sexual offenders has yet to be implemented;
  4. A standalone Sexual Harassment Act is yet to be implemented although NGOs have championed for it to be enacted since 2001;
  5. Prohibition on child marriages and the alarming rate of cases of statutory rape as well as the failure of the government to address the problem;
  6. The stagnation of female labour force participation rate in the last 20 years at 40 per cent and no clear strategy to achieve the targeted 55 per cent by 2015;
  7. Failure to implement gender-responsive budgeting at all levels of the federal government even though the pilot project was completed in 2003.
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I would like to assure the Minister that if chauvinist MPs from her side refuse to cooperate with her to pursue these agendas, we in Pakatan Rakyat will back her up.

Finally, I hope you will help to give publicity to these important agendas. Forward this or share this on Facebook. Better still, email your Members of Parliament, regardless of party, to urge them to support the issue in Parliament.

Steven Sim is the Member of Parliament for Bukit Mertajam.

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