Segregation not the answer, women’s groups say after PAS mulls separating cinema-goers in Pahang

The Joint Action Group for Gender Equality (JAG) has chided Pahang PAS after the Islamist party chapter called for gender segregation in cinemas there. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri
The Joint Action Group for Gender Equality (JAG) has chided Pahang PAS after the Islamist party chapter called for gender segregation in cinemas there. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri

KUALA LUMPUR, July 19 — The Joint Action Group for Gender Equality (JAG) has chided Pahang PAS after the Islamist party chapter called for gender segregation in cinemas there, saying the move does nothing towards curtailing social issues.

In a statement yesterday, the coalition of women’s rights groups said segregation reinforces the sexist and prejudiced perception against treating women when they are in both public and private spaces.

“This statement is unfounded because there is no solid evidence showing that social problems can be curbed with gender segregation in public places,” it said. 

“In addition, questions and thoughts about the meaning of free association in public spaces today must be refined and not be a common reason that restricts the community to do activities and events together in a healthy and respectful way.

“Gender segregation in public spaces does not lead to healthy and strong social interaction skills, does not foster respect and responsibility for gender diversity and it maintains a sexist way of thinking that considers women as objects of sex and the cause of evil and slander,” it added.

Recently, Pahang PAS commissioner Rosli Abdul Jabbar said it will recommend a Shariah-compliant policy to the Barisan Nasional state government to adopt the gender segregation rule for cinema viewers.

Under PAS, the Terengganu government had also announced its gender segregation policy for cinemas starting July 4.

JAG also questioned PAS’ motive to introduce such motion during the Covid-19 pandemic that requires social distancing to curb infection.

“Malaysians had to abide by the rules introduced during the three-month movement control order to curb the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic. The opportunity taken by PAS to implement the rules of gender segregation in this situation is very suspicious because it happens without discussion and public debate and thus there is no opportunity for objections from the people. 

“Gender segregation regulations have the effect of widening the gap between families and communities from entertaining and spending time together in selected activities, in situations where there is already an order of movement control and segregation of seats in entertainment and public spaces to curb Covid-19 disease from spreading,’’ it said.

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