Statement by Hon Rozaina Adam, President of MDP Women’s Wing and Member of Parliament, on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, 25th November 2022.

As we mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, I would like to raise my concerns regarding not just physical violence against women in domestic and other environments, but also the increasing mental abuse targeting women on the social media, especially those actively involved in politics.

As noted in the statement released by UN Women today, on this occasion, it is important to increase the number of female advocates involved in the decision-making process to bring about substantial changes to laws and policies in order to make a difference.

A political party is the most instrumental platform that can pave way for women into the parliament and government. It is vital to bring a strong female leadership into the political arena, in order to empower women and fight for Women’s rights. But this effort is hindered by the mental abuse and calls for violence against female politicians and activists, that occur on social media daily.

In addition to verbal abuse, and threats, females are especially targeted sexually with sexual comments and comments on their physical appearance both verbally and graphically.

It is highly unfortunate that in addition to men, women also participate in humiliating and degrading other women, contributing to the misogyny, discrimination, harassment and patriarchy persistent in politics.

Today I call upon everyone to respect each other irrespective of our political differences. There is a stark distinction between constructive criticism and verbal abuse using slang words, calling for violence, or speech instigating hatred and harm. Let us understand that difference, and agree to disagree with respect, to bring positive changes.
We count on the support of our male colleagues to help eliminate violence against women, and to help us fight for our rights.

My message to the women of MDP today is that, if we as women don’t stand up for each other, when we are being ill-treated, abused and subjected to violence, this violence will never end. It is vital that we support each other in overcoming the many challenges we face to stop violence against women, to empower women and to fight for our rights. Do not throw abuse at your female colleagues for political purposes and call to harm them. Instead let us support the women courageous enough to step up into the political arena. Let us cheer for them when they are right and opt for positive criticism when they are wrong.

As it is, this is not an easy world for women, and thus the least we can do is not contributing to the challenges that persist for us. Let’s hold hands and work together to stop violence against women, be it physical or mental, to empower women for a better tomorrow.

May Allah bless us all.