Women seem to be getting a hard time recently in Malaysia with different comments being made by different Cabinet ministers that seem to be very hard to digest in this day and age.
The thing that made it worse is the fact that these comments that are deprecating of women were actually made by ministers who themselves are women.
And you would think that the increase in representation of women in the government would actually mean that their interest and welfare would be better served.
Several weeks ago, we had the Women, Family and Community Development Minister, Datuk Seri Rohani Abdul Karim, saying that women should have more babies.
That is all well and good to encourage people to build families. But she also said that couples should have more babies and not be too concerned about leading a good quality life.
Stop and think about it. Rohani is the Minister for Women, Family and Community Development. And she wants Malaysians to not focus on quality of life.
I think my mother, Sophia Yusof, would do better justice holding that Cabinet portfolio. She used to tell me the reason why she decided not to have too many children.
“I would rather have a few children who I can give as much as attention to as possible than so many who who would be neglected,” she said.
She and my father made sure that my brothers and I had the best opportunity for education, ate nutritious food, had the most enjoyable childhood, and fed our souls with regular holidays.
They knew that having only three kids (sure, many would consider this a large number today!) would be ideal with what best they could afford to make sure we had the highest quality of life.
This would be opposed to having, say, five or six children and just feeding them rice and soy sauce everyday and not enriching their lives more because it would be out of their reach to do so.
With the cost of living now increasing at a tremendous rate in a negative correlation with the average household income, I think I would rather follow my mother’s advice.
Then, we also have another women minister, Nancy Shukri, from the Prime Minister’s Department, who says that the government has no plans to criminalise marital rape.
Apparently, once you enter a marriage, your husband can have sex with you anytime he wants whether you like it or not and it wouldn’t be a crime to do so.
She does stress that, under Section 375A of the Penal Code, it is still an offence for a husband to hurt his wife for the purpose of having intercourse and this should suffice to protect women.
This is such a loose definition of marital rape that there might as well not even be a Section 375A of the Penal Code (to think of it, there really is no definition of marital rape!).
So whose interests and well-being are these women ministers serving? This is a big disappointment in the fight for gender equality.
And so I would like to say to the these women ministers, it’s time to buck up or ship out!