Time and time again, women’s issues and their right for autonomy has been diluted into fruitless and circuitous online fights due to Malaysia’s reluctance to change.
Because internet users often seek solace in their respective comfort bubbles, it may seem like the problem is slowly fading into obscurity but, a recent study by rights group Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO) on violence against women (VAW) has shown that less than half of the respondents support gender equality.
That’s not all, the survey also revealed several other glaring problems within the mindset of certain Malaysians.
Here are the results of the poll…
53.3 per cent believe that domestic violence is “normal”
Domestic violence (DV) can range from physical to even emotional abuse. During the pandemic, it has been reported that domestic violence cases has shot up to an obscene amount and that some Malaysians cited financial stress as their reason for filing for divorce.
However, despite the harrowing physical and mental effects of domestic violence, 53.3 per cent of respondents believe that domestic violence is a normal reaction of stress or frustration.
43 per cent believe that women are the cause for DV since women can make a man so angry to the point where he hits her even when he does not mean to.
Another 30 per cent believe that women who flirt are often to blame for their partners hitting them out of jealousy. 26.5 per cent believe that DV can be forgiven if the perpetrator was visibly losing control due to their anger.
In the same vein, when it comes to abuse, it is often difficult for victims to leave their partners. Abusive relationships take place mostly because of a power dynamic and leaving is daunting because most perpetrators hold their partners hostage with violent threats or withholding finances.
Despite that, 37.1 per cent of respondents believe that is not hard to leave an abusive relationship and 44.9 per cent believe women who stay with their abusive partners are responsible for prolonging their own abuse.
51.3 per cent blame women for sexual crimes such as rape and assault
The notion that women are to blame for rape and assault has been debunked several times, yet a disturbing number of Malaysians still believe that a woman’s attire is the cause for these sexual crimes to happen.
83.4 per cent of respondents believe that rape happens when a man cannot control his desires, yet 51.3 per cent still blame women.
This mindset is incredibly disturbing but not surprising.
If senators within Malaysian politics can blatantly blame women for their attire in arousing a man’s sexual desires, then it comes as no surprise that many other Malaysians are of the same understanding.
Recently, JUICE reported on a Facebook group that uploaded pictures of fully-clothed Hijabi pregnant women with lewd captions without their consent. Are they to blame as well?
The study included 1,000 participants from the Malaysian population administered via an online survey company, Ipsos.
It was done with support from the Global Fund for Women, Yayasan Sime Darby, contributions from a panel of five Malaysian academic experts and sixteen VAW survivors.
The findings definitely prove that Malaysia still has a long way to go when it comes to understanding the complexity of the aforementioned issues highlighted.
JUICE has been an avid advocate for the safety and rights of women with our annual coverage of the Women’s March, write-ups on the red flags to identify in a partner, and discrimination within the media when it comes to women’s issues.
But it’s clearly not enough to instil this mindset into every Malaysian, especially when rape culture has been entrenched within our culture and society through media portrayals and is only just being addressed through Ain Husniza’s #MakeSchoolASaferPlace movement.
With that, WAO is ardently trying to tackle violence against women by listing down nine recommendations for society as a whole. These recommendations include:
- increasing public understanding
- actively challenge underlying violence-endorsing attitudes that help to sustain VAW and
- political will to combat child marriages and female genital mutilations
As we inch closer towards the tail-end of 2021, this mindset should have already been obsolete, yet here we are, confronting the fact that it still remains alive and well.
Instead of igniting fights online, let’s all try to educate one another through calm, accommodating and linguistically accessible conversations.
In addition to that, we must remain proactive and continue to challenge the people at the top so change can finally happen.