Coalition of women’s groups demand Siti Zailah’s resignation for her controversial remark seen to be endorsing domestic violence.
Deputy Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Siti Zailah Mohd Yusoff has been told to be accountable for the marital advice she conveyed in a series of videos on Instagram recently.
The latest non-governmental organisation (NGO) to add pressure against her is a coalition of women’s rights organisations, the Joint Action Group for Gender Equality (JAG), which urged Siti Zailah to resign.
In a joint statement today, JAG deemed Siti Zailah’s advice in the videos as abhorrent, as it denies women the right to equality, dignity and freedom from degrading statements.
It said her statement was grossly in error and a demonstration of failed leadership.
“The deputy minister must step down for normalising domestic violence and perpetuating ideas as well as behaviours that are opposed to gender equality.
“During the Movement Control Order (MCO) period in 2020 and 2021 alone, there were 9,015 police reports on domestic violence, excluding reports received by NGOs and other support organisations.
“There is often a stigma and fear attached to reporting violence and this is made worse by statements such as those of Siti Zailah.”
When explaining the effects of Siti Zailah’s views, JAG said a public statement against gender equality and promoting gender-based violence at ministerial level is in direct contradiction to Malaysia’s commitment towards the goal of gender equality.
“Malaysia is party to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (Cedaw).
“And according to the 12th Malaysia Plan (12MP), the country is committed to the goal of gender equality in all arenas.
“Malaysia has also been selected to the United Nation Human Rights Council with the promise to prioritise the rights of vulnerable groups including children and women.
“Following these, the government must take its role seriously in the council, and commitment to protecting women and children in the country,” said the statement.
The group believed that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob as well as Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Rina Harun must take immediate action on the matter.
The same statement was also signed by 11 women’s rights organisations, including the Women’s Aid Organisation, Sisters in Islam (SIS) and Women’s Centre for Change (WCC).
Meanwhile, Siti Zailah’s office claimed that the deputy minister had ‘no comments’ when contacted by New Straits Times regarding the matter today.
She had triggered a social media storm over the weekend after one of her ‘Tips Ibu’ (mother’s tips) Instagram videos caught the attention of many, as she was seen advising her account followers on how to deal with angry and stubborn marital partners.
She was seen saying in the two-minute video that a husband could ‘discipline’ a stubborn wife by advising her, and later pressure her into behaviour change by separating their sleeping quarters for three days.
“However, if the wife still refuses to take the advice, or change her behaviour after the sleeping separation, then the husbands can try the physical touch approach, by striking her ‘gently’, to show his strictness and how much he wants her to change,” she said in the two-minute video.
She explained that the ‘physical touch’ must not be painful, and instead be filled with affection.
In another video in the series, she was seen advising the wives to be quiet when their husbands were angry, as doing otherwise would make matters worse.
Her marital tips videos drew flak from many quarters. Many people, including NGO representatives and women politicians, said the advice placed women into submission when faced with possible domestic violence threats.
Many people had also said that Siti Zailah was condoning husbands to ‘strike’ their wives gently when they were not obedient. – NST