KUALA LUMPUR, March 9 ― Despite being ranked the fifth safest country out of 14 nations in the Asia Pacific region by the 2018 Global Peace Index, a separate study has found that Malaysia still lags in terms of legal protection and economic opportunities for women.
In a study conducted by Singapore-based Value Champion titled the “Top Five Safest Country [sic] in Asia Pacific for Women”, Malaysia was 10th out of 14 countries, trailing behind Vietnam (eighth) and Thailand (ninth), with Singapore and New Zealand tied for first place.
Among major issues found by analyst Anastassia Evlanova were the lengthy court process and difficulty in providing evidence leading to women here under-reporting crimes against them.
“While the legal framework for prosecuting crimes against women are in place, it still seems like women tend to underreport crimes due to the lengthy court process and difficulty in providing evidence.
“Some common crimes against women in Malaysia are the same as they are in other countries, including sexual harassment, domestic abuse and some discrimination against women in the workplace (according to NGOs),” Evlanova told the Malay Mail.
Furthermore, she observed that although the Malaysian legal framework provided good protection for women, there is also a very low conviction rate for rape with only around 2.7 per cent conviction for reported cases.
Another factor that affected Malaysia's standing was the fact that women did not lodge police reports of crimes committed against them.
“Furthermore, according to government profiles of Malaysia, police enforcement took claims seriously and there has been attempts to increase awareness, but as long as women are not reporting the crimes, then perpetrators will be able to get away or feel emboldened to continue their behaviors,” she explained.
However from a purely safety perspective for women, Evlanova acknowledged that the nation made the top five under that category.
What brought the country down to rank 10 in overall rankings was poor economic opportunity and health care for Malaysia's fairer sex.
“Malaysia was not ranked as 10th for the safety score, but rather for the overall score which included health care and opportunity ranks as well. It actually ranked in the top 5 for the safety rank.
“It scored poorly for opportunity and health care due to a high wage gap (difference between male and female gross national income per capita), low female employment rate and a female literacy rate that was 3 per cent lower than the male literacy rate,” she said.