Media statement by Wanita DAP on 18 September 2020:
PDRM & the Attorney-General must act swiftly to nab & charge perpetrators who harass female elected reps
On the 15th of September 2020, State Assemblyperson for Sabai, Kamache Doray Rajoo lodged a police report that she had been harassed by a MIC members in a WhatsApp groupchat. The voice note left by the man asked who she was a mistress to. This triggered a reaction by other MIC members in the group, with one even suggesting to ‘kick her if he sees her anywhere or to hit her with a broom’ and further insinuates for others to do the same (the voice note was in Tamil).
For many female elected representatives, this kind of offensive, derogatory and sexist language is nothing new; they have encountered countless situations whereby men use inappropriate language or sexist metaphors in their arguments, and indulge in sexist jokes or ‘locker room’ talk in situations where the majority are men. Many female politicians are practically ‘immune’ to the crass and hurtful words the men use, and unfortunately, been forced to ignore the harassment or put up defence mechanisms as a response.
However, we feel that it is time for us to take a strong stand against such inappropriate behaviour because it has become a norm due to the indoctrinated and sometimes, unconscious sexism and possibly due to our inaction or passiveness, or perhaps many have just given up responding, due to frustration.
As long as many men continue to think it is completely acceptable to behave in such a manner – and many do it unconsciously due to their upbringing or are used to the ‘conventional’ behaviour around them – part of the problem lies with there being no action or deterrent as a response to that.
Therefore, it is time for all of us, both women and men, to stand together to voice out our concerns about this inappropriate behaviour before it becomes an entrenched part of our society where our children too will continue to perpetuate this unacceptable trait. It is time for us to break the cycle.
Such behaviour and language, often degrading and sexualising women, can no longer be tolerated. We must demand penal action as an appropriate deterrent and punishment.
Threats of assault/murder/rape have been part and parcel of life for female lawmakers in many parts of the world and of course here too in our country. These days, it is even easier for perpetrators to hide behind an anonymous profile on social media to propagate a new wave of online crimes such as cyber bullying and cyber blackmail.
With vital information like contact numbers and names furnished in Kamache’s police report, PDRM has no excuse but should have nabbed these men who made threats and defamatory statements in the WhatsApp group, in which she also belongs. Any delay will send a strong message to future perpetrators that the Government is giving them a free pass to continue to intimidate and verbally attack women at their whim and fancy.
The Attorney-General must exercise his authority and flex his muscles, under the Penal Code or other appropriate laws immediately, so as to ensure these men are dealt with accordingly and to deter would-be offenders, setting an example that the Government views threats, sexual harassment and cyber bullying of women as serious issues.
Sexual harassment of women by words, gestures and other means cannot be condoned. The time has come for the Sexual Harassment Bill and laws on cyber bullying to be tabled in Parliament in the November sitting, not just to accord protection for all men and women but also female elected reps from being constantly attacked in this manner. In line with that, awareness campaigns must be carried out constantly and promoted at the school and community levels too.
Wanita DAP strongly condemn the cowardly act of these men who target lawmakers and urge PDRM and the AGC and to waste no time to nab these men to send a strong message to others that this kind of vile, uncouth behaviour comes with a heavy price.