Attacks on Women’s Day rally miss point of key demands, say organisers

Demonstrators take part in a march in conjunction with International Women's Day in Kuala Lumpur March 9, 2018. ― Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Demonstrators take part in a march in conjunction with International Women's Day in Kuala Lumpur March 9, 2018. ― Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

KUALA LUMPUR, March 10 — The organisers of the Women’s Day March have called out its critics as well as the media for instigating moral panic instead of highlighting the key points of the rally held in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

The rally, which was aimed at pushing for the protection of the rights of women and minorities, drew flak for defending the rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual (LGBT) community.

In a statement today, the organisers reminded everyone of the five key issues that need urgent attention — an end to violence based on gender and sexual orientation; end of child marriages; the protection of the rights and freedom of women to make choices over their own body and lives; a minimum wage of RM1,800; and the destruction of patriarchy — and not to be sidelined by politicians seeking to use the rally as political mileage.

“The importance of these realities and demands were entirely sidelined by the media and attackers of the march,” the statement read.

“Instead, disproportionate attention was made to single out and target the presence of LGBT participants. This borders on incitement to hatred and violence towards a section of Malaysian society who are already at risk and facing multiple forms of discrimination.

“We strongly reject such a move, and the continued escalation of this hostile and aggressive treatment.”

Among the criticisms the rally received was from Datuk Seri Mujahid Yusof Rawa, the minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of religion who said he was shocked by the actions of the organisers in defending LGBT rights and reaffirmed that the government does not accept the LGBT community’s practices here.

PPBM supreme council member Wan Saiful Wan Jan was quoted in FreeMalaysiaToday as saying he was annoyed with their actions while Wanita Umno chief Noraini Ahmad urged the government not to give in to LGBT demands following the march.

“We call for reason, restraint, openness and respect by all parties who are currently launching a campaign of hate and aggression towards the march,” the statement went on.

“Instead, celebrate this International Women’s Day March event as one that united women — and others — across a diversity of experiences, concerns and regions.”

* A previous version of this story contained an error which has since been corrected.

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