Monday, 5 May 2008

Malaysia plans repressive and regressive travel curbs on women

The proposer, Rais Yatim

This nonsense, has been reported both in the Malaysian media and also overseas, e.g. the BBC

Is Rais Yatim out to make Malaysia the laughing stock of the world, or are there more sinister motives?

Women's groups in Malaysia have, very rightly, reacted angrily to proposed moronic government restrictions on women travelling overseas alone.

The state controlled main stream media have reported that a proposed plan would compel women to obtain written consent from their families, or employers, before they are allowed to travel overseas alone.

Malaysia’s recently appointed foreign minister Rais Yatim, said the move would prevent single women being used by gangs to smuggle drugs.

[The proposal supposedly follows a review of criminal cases where women had been jailed abroad. Rais Yatim said 90% of cases where Malaysian women had been jailed by foreign courts involved drugs.]

He told the New Sunday Times newspaper that a compulsory letter of consent to travel alone would enable women's families to make sure they were not being tricked by drug smuggling gangs.

"Many of these women (who travel alone) leave the country on the pretext of work or attending courses and seminars," he said.

"With this declaration, we will know for sure where and for what she is travelling overseas," he said.

This is complete and utter bullshit.

Women's groups have expressed outrage at the plan, for example:

Sisters in Islam, said the proposal was totally ridiculous and regressive, and assumed that women were less capable than men of making their own decisions, whilst the National Council for Women's Organisations said it would infringe women's rights.

Campaigners have also correctly pointed out that letters of permission to travel would be very easy to forge. In Malaysia many documents are forged, this even includes important ones, such as Malaysian Passports, and compulsory Malaysian National Identity Cards.

In recent years the influence of hard-line, and sometimes extremist Islamic factions has been increasing in Malaysia, but it is unclear whether this proposal has any hidden religious motive, but it may well have Islamic undertones, and could very well be the thin of the wedge, heralding the start of the formal repression of women in Malaysia,

I fully agree that this seemingly knee-jerk, off-the-cuff proposal, by a man who is not known to be progressive, broad-minded or in touch with reality, is totally repressive, negative, infringes human rights and personal freedoms, and is totally impractical as well.

The Malaysia public in general and women in particular should strongly protest against this discriminatory, restrictive, repressive and regressive idea.

The problem Rais mentioned can easily be solved by proper education and better family interaction, the government cannot, and should not try to, solve it.

Deus ex machina

- A contrived or artificial solution.
(literally, 'a god from a machine')

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