KUALA LUMPUR, March 7 ― Religion, tradition or culture should not be excuses to discriminate against women in the country, Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) said today.
In conjunction with International Women’s Day, Suhakam chairman Tan Sri Razali Ismail said discrimination against women was prevalent in Malaysia, and called for a change to address the current situation.
“For example in areas such as marital rape, forced religious conversion of their children, the right to confer citizenship to their children in certain circumstances and laws pertaining to permanent residence for a foreign wife, indicating that a lot remains to be done,” he said in a statement.
He added that Malaysia failed to “adequately address a barrage of challenging questions” at the recent United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) on gender equality.
He said this meant Malaysia was nowhere near international standards with regards to women’s rights.
“Suhakam calls on the government to rethink how it would like to present Malaysia to the world and cannot ignore the many embarrassing comments that the country received during the (CEDAW) review, which Suhakam interprets as a slight to Malaysia by the international community,” Razali said.
To this end, Razali said Suhakam was willing to work with the relevant bodies in Putrajaya to address such issues.
“It remains to be seen whether Malaysia will show an improved level of commitment and progress in the promotion and protection of women’s rights in our rapidly changing global and national scenario,” he said.