Condemn and prohibit racism, colourism and sexism in Parliament

0
60
Photograph: Wikimedia Commons

The Joint Action Group for Gender Equality (JAG) condemns the racist, colourist and sexist remarks made by Baling MP Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim against Batu Kawan MP Kasthuri Patto in Parliament on 13 July.

Abdul Azeez was and is at all times free to disagree with Kasthuri’s views. Members of Parliament interrupt each other regularly, and this is always acceptable if done within civilised and regulatory bounds.

However, Abdul Azeez made what could be described as deplorable personal attacks against Kasthuri, suggesting that she could not be seen because of her skin colour and that she should apply “white” powder in order to be visible.

Malaysians are constantly told to tread delicately around the issue of racism. On 13 July, we witnessed firsthand its unfortunate offshoot, colourism, rearing its ugly head. Colourism is discrimination based on one’s skin colour that generally privileges lighter-skinned individuals over those with darker skin.

For centuries, dark-skinned people have been told to whiten and bleach their skin in order to fit in or be accepted, access opportunities and simply be seen and heard. Colourism sometimes intersects with racism and sexism. It can be perpetrated within a race as much as against another race.

This is not the first time that JAG has observed personal attacks against women MPs made by male MPs that are rooted in much larger issues such as sexism, misogyny, patriarchy, gender inequality, as well as ageism.

The duty of MPs is to debate the issues raised by fellow MPs and to safeguard the interests of the rakyat in the course of these debates.

READ MORE:  Gesaan Malaysia diuji negatif untuk perkauman (Malay/English)

When a male MP makes personal attacks against a woman MP, explicitly or implicitly, and gets away with it in Parliament, it sends a very loud message that Parliament accepts the bad behaviour of male MPs with impunity. A mere retraction of such statements does not address how such remarks continue to shape a negative perception and attitude towards female MPs.

We call upon further disciplinary action to be pursued against Abdul Azeez. His remarks were not only deeply and personally offensive against Kasthuri. They are a slap in the face for all Malaysians who believe in the equality of persons regardless of race, colour, age or gender.

Parliament must not allow any semblance of racism, colourism and sexism in its proceedings. To treat these with impunity is to betray our vote.

Endorsed by the following JAG member organisations:

  1. Association of Women Lawyers (AWL)
  2. All Women’s Action Society (Awam)
  3. Foreign Spouses Support Group (FSSG)
  4. Justice for Sisters (JFS)
  5. Knowledge and Rights with Young People through Safer Spaces (Kryss Network)
  6. Perak Women for Women Society (PWW)
  7. Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor (Empower)
  8. Persatuan Sahabat Wanita Selangor (PSWS)
  9. Sabah Women’s Action-Resource Group (Sawo)
  10. Sisters in Islam (SIS)
  11. Tenaganita
  12. Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO)
  13. Women’s Centre for Change (WCC)
Sign Aliran's 'Save our Democracy" petition
Sign Aliran's petition calling for a review of the decision to grant Riza Aziz a DNAA
Thanks for dropping by! The views expressed in Aliran's media statements and the NGO statements we have endorsed reflect Aliran's official stand. Views and opinions expressed in other pieces published here do not necessarily reflect Aliran's official position.

Our voluntary writers work hard to keep these articles free for all to read. But we do need funds to support our struggle for Justice, Freedom and Solidarity. To maintain our editorial independence, we do not carry any advertisements; nor do we accept funding from dubious sources. If everyone reading this was to make a donation, our fundraising target for the year would be achieved within a week. So please consider making a donation to Persatuan Aliran Kesedaran Negara, CIMB Bank account number 8004240948.
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments