Official's 'flash panty' remark draws fire

Ms Norhayati Kaprawi (above)is one of many women's rights advocates outraged by the remark.

MALAYSIA - An alleged sexist remark by a male parliamentary officer to a female member of parliament in Malaysia has outraged women's rights advocates so much that they want him sacked.

During the incident last week, the officer, who was not named, allegedly remarked to a female MP that she was not made a state executive council member because she did not "flash her panties", Kuantan MP Fuziah Salleh told parliament on Wednesday.

Ms Fuziah, of the Parti Keadilan Rakyat, claimed that the officer uttered the remark at the MPs' lounge in her presence, The Star reported.

She said: "When you say this to a woman, it is sexual harassment. When I told him off to respect the MP (and her standing) as a woman and a mother, he said he did not mean to insult her."

She told parliament that many did not understand what constituted sexual harassment, and asked Women, Family and Community Development Minister Rohani Abdul Karim how public awareness of this could be improved.

Women's rights advocates are livid and said the officer cannot get away with such statements. One of them, Ms Norhayati Kaprawi told The Star: "Why do some men think that women have to exploit her sexuality to succeed.

"Do men think that women can't succeed based on their intelligence, strength and merits. Women can! I find that to be a very sexist remark!"

Dress code

She also weighed in on the remark by Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS) Muslimat chief Siti Zailah Mohd Yusoff, who had urged the Women, Family, and Community Development Ministry to introduce a dress code to help prevent sexual harassment.

Ms Siti Zailah had told Parliament that short pants and short skirts contributed to sexual crimes. Ms Norhayati said if such is the attitude of PAS, then Malaysians, especially women, should be worried.

Rather than blaming the women, PAS women should ask their party leaders to teach men to respect women, to teach them that "no woman deserved to be harassed, molested or raped," she added.

Wanita Malaysian Chinese Association Chairman Yu Chok Tow did not mince her words in weighing in on the issue.

She said: "I find it hard to believe that a woman elected representative is blaming indecent attire for sexual assault and rape instead of condemning the perpetrators."

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