Look at Dyana for her potential, not looks, civil societies urge

Pusat Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor (Empower) and Perak Women for Women (PWW) hold a press conference condemning sexism and misogyny in the Teluk Intan campaigning, May 28, 2014. — Picture by Zurairi AR
Pusat Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor (Empower) and Perak Women for Women (PWW) hold a press conference condemning sexism and misogyny in the Teluk Intan campaigning, May 28, 2014. — Picture by Zurairi AR

TELUK INTAN, May 28 — Two civil societies condemned today sexist and misogynist remarks made against DAP hopeful for Teluk Intan Dyana Sofya Mohd Daud, saying that she should be measured on her capabilities.

In a joint press conference, civil groups Empower and Perak Women for Women Society (PWW) also condemned the smearing and bullying campaign against Dyana, noting a worsening trend against female candidates in by-elections.

“We’re really upset and disappointed with what’s been happening at the campaigning at the Teluk Intan by-election. The campaigning since day one has taken a purely sexist and gender-biased attitude,” said PWW vice-president Sumathi Sivamany.

The groups cited recent remarks by Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, and Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan, claiming they denigrated Dyana.

“All these men, they’re only concerned with Dyana’s appearance. No one has come forward to say we have an aspiring leader. Support her, show your confidence in her,” Sumathi added.

Zahid reportedly claimed that Dyana was “not that pretty” during an event celebrating women in Teluk Intan on May 25.

Meanwhile, Abdul Rahman reportedly suggested on May 23 that voters might choose Dyana because “she applies lipstick” and is “a little bit prettier” than Barisan Nasional’s (BN) candidate Datuk Mah Siew Keong.

“If even the ministers can say such a thing, what more the common people?” asked Empower’s Wong Kar Fai.

He added that BN supporters have even “sexually bullied” Dyana, when they harassed her at a walkabout by directing exhaust fumes from their motorcycles at her.

Dyana’s youthful good looks have put her in the spotlight, but Pakatan Rakyat leaders insisted that the initial preoccupation with her looks is just “temporary delirium” born of her novelty.

Despite having played up the young DAP hopeful’s looks during the opposition’s first rally in Teluk Intan, several of the pact’s leaders now say that Dyana’s other qualities are far more important.

Dyana has also played down the attention on her looks.

Dyana’s gracious response however does not excuse the sexism directed towards her, Kar Fai insisted.

The groups also lamented the lack of action they can take against the ministers who made the remarks.

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