KUALA LUMPUR, June 4 — Former women, family, and community development minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail has called for Parliament to convene and approve laws against sexual harassment and domestic violence that have worsened during the movement control orders.

The former PKR president said more effort must be directed by the current government towards solving such problems of violence against women, saying Pakatan Harapan (PH) had made headway for such laws to be tabled during her tenure but crumbled following PH’s collapse.

“Up until October 2020, Selangor reported an 80 per cent increase in domestic violence cases. I urge that we take a sterner initiative and commit stronger advocacy concerning this,” she said during her opening speech at the 15th PKR Women’s Congress which was held virtually today.

Dr Wan Azizah also pointed out the United Nations and Unicef had both labelled violence against women during the Covid-19 pandemic as a “pandemic within a pandemic” or “intimate terrorism” to express the severity of the situation of which Malaysia is not spared.

However, she complained that nothing much could be done by her and fellow MPs, with Parliament not having met for almost six months, even with the advice of the Yang Di Pertuan Agong to reconvene.

“Because of this the Rakyat’s issues cannot be debated thoroughly. Besides these issues I have just mentioned, economic disparity, the public’s mental health, domestic violence, children and wives dying in the hands of their caretakers and husbands, and the issue of education system which constantly becomes the centre of attention without a proper solution from the government.

“Among the stronger policies we elevated to federal level include detailing the guidelines for underage marriage which subsequently led to Selangor’s committing to become the first state to amend its marriage laws.

“Our other initiatives are closely related to a hot issue being discussed now which is sexual harassment. Parliament has to reconvene,” she said adding how PKR and PH remain committed to tabling the Sexual Harassment Roadmap in the next Parliament session.

Other issues Dr Wan Azizah mentioned from not convening Parliament is how the country is unable to make its stand on other global topics like the ethnic cleansing and apartheid that is being committing by the Israelis against Palestinians.

Additionally, she called on the government to ramp up vaccination rates for the country to speed up its objective of achieving herd immunity against Covid-19, saying the people and the economy have suffered immensely from the repeated lockdowns and fast shifting standard operating procedures.

She concluded her speech by calling on all party members and women leaders to spread the ideology of PKR to their circles to further strengthen the party’s position and coverage.

“For a political party, elections are our battleground and victory will always remain our objective, and to win we must always remain relevant,” she added.