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1 Aug, 2019 14:00

Backlash forces Malaysia senator to withdraw law that would protect MEN from being seduced into rape

Backlash forces Malaysia senator to withdraw law that would protect MEN from being seduced into rape

A senator from Malaysia’s ruling party had to apologize for introducing a bill that would shift blame from male sex assailants to their female victims, whose clothing and conduct allegedly provoke men into harassment or rape.

Mohamad Imran, a member of the ruling coalition’s People’s Justice Party (PKR), pitched the bizarre initiative because he was concerned about men at risk of being “seduced and end up breaking the country’s laws” due to “what women wear.” His solution to the ‘problem’ was as simple as his logic: a Sexual Harassment Act.

Contrary to the legislation’s name, it would enable Malaysian males to deal “with the acts, speech or dressing of women that could seduce men into committing incest, rape, molest and pornography, among other things.”

READ MORE: Sound of seduction: Scientists reveal men do tingle when hearing fertile female voices

The victim-blaming philosophy of the bill ignited a fiery backlash from women’s rights advocates and even from fellow MPs.

PKR's president Anwar Ibrahim, who is poised to become the next prime minister, said the party rejected the bill as it was “absurd and an insult to women.”

Also, it could give the false impression “that men are immoral and are easily seduced to the point that they could be involved in such a despicable act.” 

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Women's rights campaigner Marina Mahathir, the daughter of former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad, also hit back at Imran, who, she suggested, was “giving excuses for men behaving badly.” All in all, the story reflects “the type of toxic environment” that women face in politics and elsewhere, she lamented.

Likewise, there was no shortage of angry comments on social media. Some said the senator “owes the women of Malaysia an unreserved apology”.

Women suggested that men in general were the weaker sex as they confessed “their weakness and lack of impulse control.”

On the back of the growing uproar, the senator finally backtracked on the bill and apologized “a million times.” Saying his intentions had been “sincere,” he regretted “a huge mistake that has offended many women and no less men who considered it insulting,” according to local media

However, there were politicians who argued that a formal apology was not enough. “I am of the opinion that gender sensitization sessions should be conducted, especially for elected and appointed representatives,” Deputy Prime Minister Wan Azizah Wan Ismail commented. “Blaming a woman for a crime due to the way she talks or dresses is wrong,” she said.

Malaysia has witnessed an array of controversial remarks by MPs about gender issues and sex crime. Back in 2017, Shabudin Yahaya, a member of the Barisan Nasional Coalition, claimed that girls as young as nine were “physically and spiritually” ready to marry. To make things worse, he said there’s “nothing wrong” with females marrying their rapists.

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Those comments, which came shortly after Malaysia failed to criminalize child marriage, also prompted outrage online.

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