Malaysian authorities have advised women to wear makeup, not to nag their husbands and speak with a cartoon character’s soothing voice during the virus lockdown, sparking a flood of mockery online.
Like many countries, Malaysia has ordered all citizens to stay at home to stem the spread of COVID-19, which, as of yesterday, had killed at least 39,070 people globally.
In a series of online posters with the hashtag #WomenPreventCOVID19, the Malaysian Ministry of Women and Family Development issued advice on how to avoid domestic conflicts during the partial lockdown, which began on March 18.
One of the campaign posters depicted a man sitting on a sofa, and asked women to refrain from being “sarcastic” if they need help with household chores.
Avoid nagging your husband, another poster said, attempting to inject humor by using a voice similar to the anime character Doraemon — a blue robot cat popular across Asia.
The post was removed yesterday afternoon following a flood of criticism, with many accusing the government of sexism.
It “is extremely condescending both to women and men,” said Nisha Sabanayagam, a manager at Malaysian advocacy group All Women’s Action Society.
“These posters promote the concept of gender inequality and perpetuate the concept of patriarchy,” she said by telephone.
The posters, uploaded on Facebook and Instragram, drew widespread ridicule online, with social media users urging the government to remove them.
“How did we go from preventing baby dumping, fighting domestic violence to some sad variant of the Obedient Wives Club?” Twitter user @yinshaoloong wrote.
“No tips on how to deal with domestic violence?” asked another user, @honeyean.
“This must be a pressing issue,” one Facebook post said. “How will dressing up and putting on makeup at home [prevent] COVID-19? Pray, tell?”
“It’s already 2020, please progress. Focus on more important matters for women,” another said.
There have been fears of a surge in domestic violence worldwide, as the stress caused by confinement and job insecurity increase the likelihood of conflicts.
A government helpline for vulnerable people, including victims of domestic abuse, has seen an increase in calls of more than 50 percent since the start of the lockdown, local media reported.
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