Victims no matter who there are should be protected by the laws of the country. There should not be any distinction on the persons involved no matter who they are especially if they have committed crimes in collaboration whether it is WHITE or BLUE collared. We posts this Malaysiakini article by Dr. Bridget Welsh http://www.malaysiakini.com/news/98530 who writes for Malaysiakini and is associate professor in Southeast Asian studies at John Hopkins University-SAIS, Washington DC.
Both sides of the political divide be it BN or Pakatan have given their support for YB Elizabeth Wong and are disgusted by this low level political manouvering and tactics.We say as always,” DON’T JUST GIVE IN TO THIS CRIMINAL TACTIC BUT SHOW THE WORLD THAT YOU ARE A TOUGH COOKIE.”
No question – the vicious attack on the integrity of the popular and dedicated state assemblywoman Elizabeth Wong – is an example of how women politicians are maliciously victimised.
The attack on her personal life illustrates the challenges that women face when entering the public arena and the dirty tactics that are used to discredit them. Few are drawing attention to the gender bias of the invasion of Wong’s public space and the double standards that are being imposed on her as a successful single woman.
Make no bones about it, the unlawful distribution of intimate photographs/videotapes and hypocritical criticism of her sexuality represents a classic case of political rape, where the perpetrators – the photographer and her public critics, such as the discredited ousted Selangor mentri besar Dr Mohd Khir Toyo – should face legal prosecution and public condemnation for their involvement in this attack.
For those who study gender, the distinction between the private and public sphere is often identified as one of the key distinguishing features.
Women activists have drawn attention to problems faced within the home – domestic violence, divorce law, child custody and sadly sexual violence.
Ironically, few know that in her role as a human rights activist, Wong played an important part in the struggles to address sexual harassment and domestic violence in Malaysia.
She joined an impressive group of Malaysian women activists to have brought about broader legal protection for Malaysian women, making the laws for women’s rights in the country one of the most forward looking in Asia.
In this drive to blur the public and private spheres, there has been a consistent effort to respect the rights of the individual to privacy. As long as what is occurring in the privacy of a person’s home is not causing harm to others or is not violating the law – as clearly is the case of the photographs of Wong – human rights activists have rightly argued that privacy should be protected for men and women alike.
This case is part of a worrying trend of personal political attacks that cross the line of what should remain private.
The list is long and includes politicians across the spectrum, from Ghafar Baba and Najib Razak to Anwar Ibrahim. The unhealthy attention to what is occurring in the bedroom rather than in the boardroom or the exco or state assembly points to an unwillingness to engage in substantive political debate.
Since Wong’s critics were unable to fault her professionalism as a state representative, they have opted to attack her personally in her private arena, ignoring the issues of environmental degradation and multi-ethnic inclusiveness that have been the hallmark of Wong’s political work.
Gender politics also teaches us that women disproportionately face issues involving their person – what they wear, their physical image or the body. It is useful to recall the attacks on other women politicians, such a Fong Po Kuan, for their clothing in Parliament or rude distasteful references to menstruation.
The attack on Wong is more of the same. Her physical image is being used to discredit her unfairly. Sadly men – even those with videotapes of their indiscretions – do not face the same level of physical intrusiveness.
Not just an attack on one woman
Part of this case involves another key dimension of gender issues – female sexuality.
Studies have shown that with women’s economic and political empowerment, there has been a parallel process of female sexual enlightenment. At the core is the recognition that women have the right to enjoy sex as much as men. The criticism of Wong implicitly implies otherwise.
As her critics move to identify her alleged sexual partners and further violate her privacy, they are making a judgment that a woman should not make her own choices in her sexuality.
The implication of this agenda is frightening in that it contains a righteous extremism that moves Malaysia back to the dark ages where women were seen as sexual objects rather than sensual and sexual beings. It suggests that women should not have the choices over their own lives.
This attack is not just an attack on single woman, but all women who have confidence in themselves and their own sexuality. Part of this reflects insecurities on the part of some men, notably Wong’s critics, who cannot accept growing women’s equality and empowerment.
Let’s look at the behaviour in more detail.
There is nothing wrong with a person in the privacy of their own home involved in intimate acts. On the surface it appears that Wong trusted the wrong person. That person who violated her was a man who to date has escaped punishment for his actions. The pain of a broken relationship is always difficult, but the acid poured into the wound from betrayal burns even deeper.
We unfortunately live in a world where social and personal trust is often violated. In love, people can be blind to the faults of others. Did Wong make a mistake in trusting and loving her partner? I think not.
If we don’t take the personal risk of loving and trusting others, we lose our humanity. Rather than blaming her for her life choices, we should be looking for ways to protect victims – male and female – who have their trust violated.
Wong’s case points to the inherit vulnerability that women face in relationships. Despite the progress that has been made, women face inequalities in partnerships. From inheritance and social security, to the rights of divorce and child support, the rights of women in partnerships are far from equal. Women, more often than not, face greater obstacles and simultaneously absorb greater risk.
Wong faces what many rape victims face
This inequality points to the long standing issue of double standards. It is alright for a man to illustrate their sexual prowess, but wrong for a woman to do so. What is acceptable for a goose is not appropriate for a gander.
In sexual scandals historically in Malaysia, rarely is the man scathed. Look at Malaysia’s first sexual scandal – the affair of Tunku Abdul Rahman in London that led to a public divorce of his British lover. This did little to damage his reputation as he went on to lead Malaysia impressively.
The case of Chua Soi Lek was an exception, rather than the norm. It is clearly the product of sexual political targeting that is used to replace real policy discussions and remove good politicians.
The same political targeting appears to be occurring now. In the case of Wong, browbeating critics have forced her to resign, effectively victimising her again as she has been forced to give up her livelihood. For what? For being a successful sexual woman.
My mother taught me that people in glass houses should not throw stones. Those that are calling out on issues of “moral character” have their own skeletons that have yet to be addressed. Corruption, abuse of power, and ethnic intolerance are some that come to mind, and one cannot think about the hypocrisy involved. People should assess their own moral behaviour before attacking others.
When stripped of the discourse of morality and immorality, the case of Elizabeth Wong should be seen for exactly what it is – a vengeful political attack meant to discredit a woman through the use of her personal life.
She is facing what many rape victims face – the trauma of the violation itself and the trauma of reliving the pain in public. Rape in any form – political or otherwise – should not be tolerated.