In a shocking incident, Malaysian minister Siti Zailah Mohd Yusoff sparked outrage after she advised husbands to beat their ‘stubborn’ wives to discipline them for ‘unruly behaviour’.
The irony is that this advice came from the deputy minister for women, family and community development. She has been accused of ‘normalising’ domestic violence by urging men to strike their wives to show how strict he is and ‘how much he wants her to change’.
In her two minutes Instagram video with a caption ‘Mother Tips’, Siti Zailah firstly advised to discipline’ their ‘stubborn’ wives by speaking to them, if that doesn’t work, the husband should sleep apart from the wife for three days.
She went on to add, “However, if the wife still refuses to take the advice, or change her behaviour after the sleeping separation, then the husband can try the physical touch approach, by striking her gently, to show his strictness and how much he wants her to change.”
Her advice echoed a verse from the Quran which describes men as caretakers of women and can discipline disobedient women.
Siti Zailah, who is also an MP for the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party, also urged women to talk to their husbands only after acquiring the permission for that.
Women’s rights groups, Joint Action Group for Gender Equality has accused Siti Zailah of normalising domestic abuse and has sought her resignation.
The joint statement reads, “The deputy minister must step down for normalising domestic violence, which is a crime in Malaysia, as well as for perpetuating ideas and behaviours that are opposed to gender equality.”
“There is often a stigma and fear attached to reporting domestic violence and this is made worse by statements such as those of Siti Zailah. Between 2020-2021, over 9,015 police reports on domestic violence and those figures will in reality be higher as they do not include the women who have reported abuse to charities,” women’s rights groups added.
They added, “As a minister who is meant to uphold gender equality and the rights of women to protection and safety, this is abhorrent, denies women the right to equality, their right to dignity and to be free from degrading treatment. It is grossly mistaken and a demonstration of failed leadership.”
Siti Zailah has received backlash in 2020 also when she asked wives ‘accept, remain patient and forgive their abusive spouses’.