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.
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.
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.