KUALA LUMPUR, March 10 — Several participants of a rally today in conjunction with the International Women’s Day this week, were allegedly harassed by a group of men after the march had wound down.
Women’s March Malaysia committee member Yubanesan Balan told Malay Mail that among others their placards were snatched near the Dang Wangi police station here by men who threatened that they would lodge a police report against them and the march.
“Mind you the placards were not displayed by the group of women and were simply held. We were also disheartened to hear the incident took place near the police station and yet there was no immediate response from the police on the matter,” Yubanesan said.
“Thankfully no one was hurt but this incident is a reflection of the level of discrimination and injustice that woman in our country have to face on a daily basis.
“We detest such attitude and violence against women but this will not hamper our work to voice out against gender discrimination,’’ he added.
Earlier today, hundreds of Malaysians, most of them women, took to the streets of Kuala Lumpur to march from the Sogo shopping mall to Tugu Takraw at the Jamek Mosque, aiming to reclaim women’s space in the public.
There were five demands of the march today: To eliminate gender discrimination, destroy rape culture and sexual violence, strengthen rights for political space and democracy for all, strive for equal opportunities and wages, and stop destruction of the environment.
But even after the march was over, several participants continued to be harassed on social media, especially those who shared photos documenting their participation with the hashtag #WomensMarchMY.
Several civil society groups such as the All Women’s Action Society Malaysia (AWAM) and Justice for Sisters have documented the abuse on their Twitter accounts, which ranged from fatshaming, transphobic comments, to threats of violence.
“Take care, check in on each other, block and report liberally. Log off if you need to,” AWAM advised on its Twitter account.
“The harassment of the participants, both online and offline, is an example of how women are restricted from taking up space in public. This further discourages women from speaking up about their experiences,” a representative from AWAM told Malay Mail.
The group also asserted that it condemned the violence and encouraged allies to “support and amplify women’s voices instead”.
“The violence on the street against some of the protestors today is proof that women’s expression and participation in Malaysia is not only surveilled but actively targeted.
“That protestors and supporters were subsequently attacked online also tells us that offline and online spaces are fluid, and both are equally unsafe for women,” social activist Juana Jaafar told Malay Mail.