KUALA LUMPUR: A Pakatan Harapan (PH) backbencher today defended the organisers of the recent Women’s Day march, disputing claims that they failed to comply with the necessary requirements.
Kasthuri Patto (PH-Batu Kawan) added that the march, held on March 9, was not a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) march as alleged by some.
She said the peaceful assembly, held in conjunction with International Women’s Day, had called for an end to gender-based violence and child marriage, among others.
It also promoted the rights of women as decision makers over their own bodies, and called for equal pay, RM1,500 minimum wage and an end to patriarchy to build a healthy democracy based on the law and constitution, she said.
“I wish to point out that this was a women’s march, and not a march for any other groups. It was not an LGBT march,” she said, adding that other interest groups, including from the disabled community, had taken part as well.
She said this in her debate on the royal address in the Dewan Rakyat, in response to a question by Ismail Sabri Yaakob (BN-Bera).
She also disagreed with Noraini Ahmad (BN-Parit Sulong), who said the organisers had not given the required notice.
“This is not true at all. The organisers did give a 10-day notice,” she said.
She added that approval permits were only compulsory under the Police Act.
“Under the Peaceful Assembly Act, there is no need for a permit from the police when the application is made in 10 days, only a notice to announce the rally.
“Don’t slander this group. They are only demanding that the rights of women like you and I be upheld,” she said.
Kasthuri also voiced hope that the government would look into the demands made at the march, in the interest of women and strengthening the family institution as well as community ties.
“We need to debate based on the trust and mandate given by the people, not to score with voters when we go back to our constituencies,” she said.
She also urged the government to take the lead in efforts to criminalise stalking.
She said it is important to push for a law on this as there have been female murder victims who were also victims of stalking.
“The time has come for the PH government to do what the previous government did not, which is to criminalise stalking.
“Let us show the critics out there how protection of women, men and families can be done,” she said.