PETALING JAYA: The government has been prompted to act on a Gender Equality Act to stop sexual harrassment such as the lewd remarks about “underwear and breasts” that were made by a caller to a talk show featuring PKR vice-president Nurul Izzah Anwar.
Former Bersih leader Maria Chin Abdullah, who is the newly-elected MP for Petaling Jaya, condemned the comments that were made by a male caller, saying it amounted to sexual harassment and highlighted the need for the new law.
In April, Rohani Abdul Karim, then minister for women’s affairs, told Parliament that a law on gender equality was being drafted to deal with such matters as stereotyping and job segregation in professional fields, unequal pay, women’s hierarchy in society and similar problems.
On May 22, Nurul Izzah and the talk show host were taken aback when a man called in and made comments about her way of dressing, saying that “YB’s tudung is sometimes swept aside, you know, so sometimes we can see the top part (of your clothing). Especially when you wear a kebaya, it’s tight, so the top part is visible.”
When the talk show host tried to end the call, the man added: “We can see your underwear. We can see your breasts.”
Maria Chin said the man’s comment “was done intentionally and deliberately to harass and to make Nurul’s topic of conversation irrelevant. He did not ask one morsel of a question on the related topic.”
She also criticised the compere for thanking the caller. “It should be seen as an insult to the station for using its airtime to sexually harrass one of their invited guests,” she said.
Maria Chin said women were often made to feel uncomfortable and always made to be the offender because of a non-conforming way of dressing or behaviour. “It’s time to stop, name the crime and take action against offenders,” she said.