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'Wear Makeup, Don't Nag Husband': Malaysian Govt's Sexist Tips for Women During Coronavirus Lockdown

following outrage, the Malaysian government issued an apology and tool down the posts | Image credit: Twitter

following outrage, the Malaysian government issued an apology and tool down the posts | Image credit: Twitter

From putting make-up on while working from home to 'avoid nagging', women have been given an entire list of steps they can follow in order to make life for their husbands and partners easier at home.

  • News18.com
  • Last Updated: April 1, 2020, 1:40 PM IST
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Put make-up on. Avoid nagging. Speak in a squeaky cartoon cat voice.

These are just some of the steps that women in Malaysia have been asked to follow by the government in order to make life easier for men and women cohabiting as couples under the coronavirus lockdown.

The global coronavirus pandemic has pushed people inside their homes and cloistered families together within the confines of four walls. But while many are treating a lockdown as an opportunity to relax and let their hair down amid the crisis, it seems Malaysian women do not have the option.

Following a national lockdown on March 18, the Malaysian government issued a series of infographic coronavirus advisories for women. The online posters, issued by the Ministry of Women and Family Development on their social media pages, contained a variety of tips for women on how to deal with the lockdown and ensure a happy home life with their husbands or partners and avoid arguments and discord.

A poster with the image of a couple hanging clothes urged women to "avoid nagging" while another with a man sitting on a sofa asked women to not bve "sarcastic" when seeking help form their husbands or partners. This was meant to reduce disagreements among the couple as no man, obviously, likes to be nagged or told what chores to do by a woman.

Other posters advised women to put make-up on and dress in smart clothes rather than casuals while working from home. Because even at home, women are always on display.

Yet another asked women to imitate the squeaky voice of popular cartoon cat Doraemon while speaking at home. Because why not reduce women from actual, equal humans to a cartoon cat?

The posters were released with the hashtag #WomenPreventCOVID19. But how does wearing makeup and not nagging men help women prevent coronavirus?

The now-deleted posters were instantly blasted by women's rights organisations from across the world as well as Malaysians who called the posters deeply sexist. Many proponents of women's rights groups rightly found the advisories deeply condescending and sexist.

Many on social media also wondered how wearing makeup and keeping their husbands happy would help women prevent coronavirus.

Following the outrage, the Malaysian government issued an apology and removed the posts from their social media handles."We apologise if some of the tips we shared were inappropriate and touched on the sensitivities of some parties," the ministry said in a statement.

In the wake of the lockdown which forced many couples into voluntary or involuntary lockdown, cases of domestic violence have registered a global spike. In Malaysia itself,local media reported that the number of calls to a national helpline for vulnerable persons including victims of domestic abuse has surged by nearly 50 percent since the partial lockdown to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. Since March 18, the helpline had received nearly 2,000 calls.

According to experts, the stress of isolation and containment, as well as threat to job and food security, are likely to be contributing to tensions at home.

In terms of gender gap, Malaysia's performance remains poor, ranking 104 out of 153 countries in the latest World Economic Forum's Global Gender Gap index.


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