A campaign to help stop domestic violence during the COVID-19 lockdown has been pulled abruptly after it suggested wives shouldn’t nag their husbands and should dress up and wear make-up when working from home.
The utterly tone-deaf poster campaign was the work of the Malaysian government’s women’s affairs ministry and attempted to offer tips on how to prevent domestic violence since the country went into a partial lockdown a fortnight ago.
Titled #WomenPreventCOVID19 and written in Malay, the series of online posters were aimed at a female audience and included such tips as not to nag your husband, don’t be sarcastic when asking him to help with the chores and not to dress like a slob.
Unsurprisingly, the campaign drew immediate fury from women’s groups and was promptly pulled.
“We apologise if some of the tips we shared were inappropriate and touched on the sensitivities of some parties,” the ministry’s women development department said in a statement.
“It is extremely condescending both to women and men,” said Nisha Sabanayagam, a manager at All Women’s Action Society, a Malaysian advocacy group. “These posters promote the concept of gender inequality and perpetuate the concept of patriarchy,” she said.
However, the threat of domestic violence remains very real during the self-isolation. A Malaysian hotline that helps domestic abuse victims and vulnerable children has reported a 100 per cent increase in calls since the nation started to quarantine. Here in Australia, the federal government has promised a $1 billion boost to help fight it alongside mental health issues during the lockdown. While in France, hotels are offering their rooms to vulnerable women in children.
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