The Men of Malaysia Must Be Educated

By Ambiga Singh – 3.7.19

You know that there is something seriously flawed in your country’s system when an MP from the ruling party suggests a ‘Sexual Harassment’ act aimed to protect those men that commit sex crimes due to being “seduced” by the actions or clothing of women.

This bizarre suggestion would almost be funny if it wasn’t so damn dangerous and insulting. This was the sentiment of Mohamad Imran Abd Hamid, an MP with the ruling People’s Justice Party, when he spoke out at the Southeast Asian country’s upper house earlier this month.

He claimed that it is the actions, words and clothing of women which cause men to be seduced to the point they can commit acts such as incest, rape, molestation, [watching] pornography and likewise. He added that: “This is important, [men] need to be protected. The actions, clothing of women can seduce us into breaking the law and causing us to be charged.”

The situation was made even worse when a senate deputy president of UMNO, Malaysia’s biggest opposition political party, backed his proposal claiming it was “a good viewpoint”. Has the world turned upside down? How on earth is this level of victim shaming found in a framework of politicians that are meant to be upholding rights of all citizens?

Many Malaysian organisations and public figures including the All Women’s Action Society (AWAM), Marina Mahathir, and PKR president Anwar Ibrahim denounced the proposal. Anwar went so far as to state that the bill was “absurd and an insult to women.” And requested a retraction.

Of course, responding to the backlash Mohammad Imran apologised “a million times” and retracting his proposal, but it is too little to late. The fact that this was even an idea that he felt secure in putting forward points to a serious problem in the education of Malaysian men when it comes to women and their responsibilities as decent human beings.

The same problem was on display earlier this month when the Think tank Centre for Governance and Political Studies (Cent-GPS) produced their results of a survey. It found that 65 percent of men in Malaysia do not know that sexual consent needs to be an explicit “yes”. An even scarier result of the survey showed that 13 percent though consent was identified through “body language”, be it gestures, eye contact, touching or kissing.

It was clear form the survey that majority of Malaysian men do not understand the concept of consent. How are we protecting the women in Malaysia if the men are not even aware of what consent is!?

Both the MP’s ridiculous comments as well as the results of this survey point towards a real problem when it comes to in-depth sex education and the rights of women.