Malaysia women’s march meets disapproval from religious, political authorities

15-Mar-2019 Intellasia | Religion News | 6:00 AM Print This Post

In solidarity with women around the world, several hundred people marched in Malaysia’s capital on Saturday (March 9) to mark International Women’s Day. The march, organised by activist groups and local nongovernmental organisations, demanded greater women’s rights and called for a ban on child marriage, an end to gender discrimination and a monthly minimum wage of 1800 RM ($650).

But the focus on women’s issues was often overshadowed by a backlash against LGBT activists who marched for an end to gender-based violence and discrimination against LGBT in Malaysia, where same-sex relationships are outlawed both by civil and Islamic law.

Mujahid Yusof Rawa, the Malaysian Islamic affairs minister, deemed the event “a misuse of democratic space.” “I am shocked by the actions of a handful of people today who abuse the democratic space to defend practices that are against Islamic teachings,” the minister wrote in a Facebook post after the rally.

The minister’s comment was backed by similar comments from representatives of PAS, a conservative Islamic political party in Malaysia, and United Malays National Organisation, the party that ruled Malaysia for six decades until last year. Several Islamic NGOs and student groups also filed a police report against the march organisers.

Organisers of the march called for “reason, restraint, openness and respect by all parties who are currently launching a campaign of hate and aggression,” in a statement released to the press. “A healthy democracy relies on full and equal participation by all levels of society. We remind the government that it is their duty to defend this basic principle, in particular for those who are marginalised in society.”


Category: Malaysia

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