M'sians Marching For Int'l Women's Day Were Harassed On The Streets And Online

The march was aimed at reclaiming women's space in the public.

Yesterday, 10 March, hundreds of Malaysian women and men took to the streets to march for 1 km in conjunction with International Women’s Day 2018

The march from the Sogo shopping mall to Tugu Takraw at the Jamek Mosque was aimed at reclaiming women’s space in the public.

The spirited marchers, most of them women, chanted slogans and carried placards championing a diverse array of issues

Among the five demands of the march were: 

1. To eliminate gender discrimination;

2. To destroy rape culture and sexual violence;

3. To strengthen rights for political space and democracy for all;

4. To strive for equal opportunities and wages; and 

5. To stop the destruction of environment.

Unfortunately, several participants of the Women's March were allegedly harassed and threatened by a group of men in the city centre

Women’s March Malaysia committee member Yubanesan Balan told Malay Mail  that, “Mind you the placards were not displayed by the group of women and were simply held. We were also disheartened to hear the incident took place near the police station and yet there was no immediate response from the police on the matter.” 

Yubanese explained that, “Thankfully no one was hurt but this incident is a reflection of the level of discrimination and injustice that woman in our country have to face on a daily basis."

After the event was over, several participants were also harassed on social media, especially those who documented their experiences with photos using the hashtag #WomensMarchMY

Several civil society groups such as the All Women’s Action Society Malaysia (AWAM) and Justice for Sisters have documented the abuse on their Twitter accounts, which ranged from fatshaming, transphobic comments, to threats of violence.

Image via Yusof Jaafar

Many netizens have since shown support for the Women's March online, arguing that the ensuing harassment only proved that such an event is necessary in Malaysia

A representative of AWAM told the Malay Mail that, “The violence on the street against some of the protestors today is proof that women’s expression and participation in Malaysia is not only surveilled but actively targeted." 

“That protestors and supporters were subsequently attacked online also tells us that offline and online spaces are fluid, and both are equally unsafe for women,” said social activist Juana Jaafar.

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