The Malaysian government warned women not to be “sarcastic” to their husbands when asking them to help with household chores during coronavirus lockdowns, a request that sparked debate Tuesday.
Malaysia’s Ministry for Women, Family and Community Development promoted online posters on Facebook and Instagram asking women to not nag their husbands during the partial lockdown that began March 18.
The promotion, posted with the hashtag #WomenPreventCOVID19, also encouraged women to dress up and wear makeup while at home.
The poster requesting women not to be sarcastic to their husbands showed a man sitting on a sofa.
The posters prompted criticism online for pushing gender stereotypes.
"[It] is extremely condescending both to women and men," Nisha Sabanayagam, a manager at the advocacy group All Women's Action Society, told Reuters. "These posters promote the concept of gender inequality and perpetuate the concept of patriarchy."
How did we go from preventing baby dumping, fighting domestic violence to some sad variant of the Obedient Wives Club? https://t.co/1SrVYp0e5d— Yin Shao Loong (@yinshaoloong) March 31, 2020
Avoid wearing home clothes. Dress up as usual, put on make-up and dress neatly. OMG! This is what Rina, our Minister of Women, Family & Community Development thinks is important during the #COVID19 lockdown? No tips on how to deal with #DomesticViolence? Just state DV is a crime. pic.twitter.com/FfswtPBIPH— Honey Tan (@honeyean) March 31, 2020
The Ministry for Women, Family and Community Development then ditched the campaign effort, saying it was aimed at "maintaining positive relationships among family members during the period they are working from home." It said it would “remain cautious in the future,” according to NPR.
Malaysia’s movement control order also said only the “head of the household” should go get groceries, leading to posts describing confused men in the grocery stores.
The World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap places Malaysia in 104th place out of 153 countries when ranking women’s political empowerment and economic participation.
Women’s rights groups around the world have also cautioned that the various lockdowns may put women at risk for domestic violence.
Malaysia has documented 2,908 confirmed cases of the virus and 45 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.