Breaking patriarchal mind-set crucial to stop victim blaming

Written by TheMole

By Ku Anis Sofia Ku Ibrahim

KUALA LUMPUR, August 17 2019: There seems to be an upholding trend amongst male Malaysian politicians in regards to making it a habit of women blaming whenever it comes to discussing rape laws and sexual harassment.

These discussions usually miss the mark in actually updating and improving such laws and instead turn into a debacle of accusing women being at fault for making themselves victims of such crimes.

As in a recent such discussion, PKR senator Mohamad Imran Abdul Hamid portrayed men as the true victims of such crimes for being seduced (by women’s clothing) into engaging in rape or sexual harassment. 

As always of such faux pas, an apology soon followed from the senator after his misogynistic remark. 

Below are some other examples from previous years of politicians making similar sexist remarks


Instances of Sexist and Mysoginistic remarks by Malaysian Politicians



Who said it


“The women’s dressing menggoda (seduces) and mencabar (challenges) men, men were sure to look when sexily attired women walked by them  

Then Permatang Berangan Umno division chief Shabudin Yahaya


“Players (female) for the competition, regardless of religious beliefs, would be required to wear long-sleeved T-shirts and loose-fitting track pants throughout the game.” 

Then Pas’ Youth Development, Sports and Non-Governmental Organisation Committee chairman Dr Ramli Mamat


During a debate on amending domestic violence laws, said “husbands were ‘abused’ when wives threw insults, withheld sex and denied consent for Muslim men to take another wife.” 

Setiu parliamentarian Che Mohamad Zulkifly Jusoh,

“It’s because you’re so beautiful. The next time you go out, wear shabby clothes.” asked him about steps to reduce street crime. She was worried for her safety.

Then federal territories minister Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor

“Female flight attendants’ uniforms could “arousee passengers” 

Then senator Abdullah Mat Yasim


Despite these remarks being made by different people in different times, there is one clear and outstanding similarity that is they were all clear cut cases of victim blaming. 

The cause for this recurring cycle, according to psychologists who talked to The Mole, is due to a cultural factor ingrained in Malaysian society and the lack of understanding of gender roles. 

Dr Jamaluddin Aziz of Tun Fatimah Hashim Centre for Women’s Leadership, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia said the sexist attitude has nothing to do with biological natural factor but instead more of a culturally conditioned behaviour. 

“This habit of victim blaming may correlate with how we as a society usually allocate a set of rules and behaviours for men and women in which it is acceptable for a woman to do this “cook” or look like this “covered” whereas the rules that we have put for males in our society differ.

“To them, making these types of rules may be the norm and not a misogyny. They themselves do not view their words and actions as being prejudicial or misogynist. They may also not fully associate themselves with the term, that they are not able to identify their words or actions as being misogynistic.”

As for Dr Zaireeni Azmi of  Centre for Research on Women and Gender, Universiti Sains Malaysia, she was of the opinion that sexist attitude among some politicians was because they never tried to understand societal gender relations.

“So, they have this tendency to blame women and needed them to be subjected to their misogynistic views or opinions” said Zaireeni. 

She pointed out that the victim blaming habit, especially by male Muslims, was also due to the widespread cherry-picking of a verse in the Quran that touched on matters concerning general modesty.

“Yes, Islam does ask the women to dress modestly in a certain way but in another chapter in the Quran, the men were also told lower their when they see women (An-Nur, verse 30).

“So, the role of the two genders is equal and complementary and women are not subordinate to men,” she said. 

In order for our society to progress from this repeating trend both psychologists agreed that there needs to be continuous efforts to break the domination of the patriarchal mind-set in Malaysia. 

They said instead of being the culprits, politicians must champion this issue and try to understand other’s experiences and perspectives.



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