‘Segregation is okay, discrimination is not’

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PETALING JAYA: Amanah vice-president Mujahid Yusof Rawa has shrugged off a report about sex segregation in a hospital, saying it is inconsequential unless there is discrimination between the sexes.

Referring to segregation at the waiting area outside the Ampang public hospital’s Intensive Care Unit (ICU), a practice that has now been discontinued, Mujahid said it was probable that the arrangement was made because people felt more comfortable with it.

“It’s no big deal,” he said. “I don’t think it’s an issue unless we are segregating to discriminate or if the arrangement leads to discrimination.

“We have public transport and ride-sharing services that cater to only women for their safety and comfort. Is that wrong?”

The KTM Komuter has coaches reserved for women and the Riding Pink ride-sharing service caters only to female passengers.

The secretary-general of the Islamic Medical Association of Malaysia, Azlan Helmy Abd Samat, gave a similar opinion. He said segregation for the sake of safety could be a good thing, especially if the ICU at the Ampang hospital was secluded.

“But if the room is open and visible, and safety is not a concern, then it will be better for families to sit together.”

Azlan said he believed that the hospital introduced sex segregation in response to specific incidents or requests and in the interest of safety and comfort.

It was likely that the hospital authorities wanted to prevent harassment or loss of property, he added.

“But it’s not a must-have policy. Hospitals usually aim to provide as much comfort to the relatives as they do to patients.”

The Health Ministry told FMT that segregation was not a policy.

Ampang hospital ditches gender segregation at waiting rooms