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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Cops asked to investigate rape threat against rep - The Star

By LOH FOON FONG


PETALING JAYA: Women's and civil society groups want police to investigate the rape threat uttered against Batu Tiga state assemblyman Rodziah Ismail during a dialogue initiated by the Selangor state government to resolve the Hindu temple relocation issue in Shah Alam.

The Federal Territory PKR Wanita chief Felicia Ling said they condemned those who allegedly said, “Rodziah, saya akan rogol you sekarang (Rodziah, I will rape you now)” during the meeting on Sept 5.

Ling said that the police’s delay in taking action against the instigators late last month had resulted in another unruly incident.

On Aug 28, certain Shah Alam residents protesting the relocation of a Hindu temple to their neighbourhood dragged the decapitated head of a cow, then stamped and spat on it. The cow is considered sacred by Hindus.

Police did not take action at the time, but after public pressure arrested some of those involved on Tuesday. They were charged in court on Wednesday.

To try and resolve the temple relocation matter, the Selangor government held a dialogue with residents last Saturday. However, the situation turned tense when some of the participants became disruptive and abusive.

Honey Tan, a member of women’s group Empower, said that violence defeats the democratic process.

“When they do that, it makes it more difficult for women to be in politics and to hold office,” she said.

Tan said the threat could only be described as gender-based violence because it was targeted specifically at women.

The threatening words were tantamount to criminal intimidation and those who heard it must make police reports as part of their civic duty and the police should investigate it, she said.

Women’s Candidacy Initiative (WCI) member Jac Kee said the WCI rejected such tactics and behaviour in a democratic country, and those involved must be charged.

“The creation of spaces and processes for open dialogue is a key principle of democratic participation, and these individuals aimed to shut down dialogue and push for decision-making in their favour through intimidation, aggression and threats of violence,” she said.

She said Malaysians were fighting to eliminate rape and the threat uttered not only disregarded the national issue but perpetuated a culture of sexism, fear and violence in a democratic system.

“This presents further barriers to women’s political participation and does great harm to the inviolability of our country’s democracy,” she said.

Sisters in Islam executive director Dr Hamidah Marican also urged the police to take action against the “hotheads” to prevent a downward spiral into possible conflict and violence.

“It is appalling that we have lost the ability to engage rationally, civilly and peacefully to resolve a problem,” she said.

“Use wisdom and beautiful preaching; and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious,” she said on how the Quran has explicit guidance on how to handle differences.

“It is a disgrace to the community that such threats were made in the name of race and religion,” she said.

Women’s Aid Organisation executive director Ivy Josiah said that women politicians tend to face such threats and they had to be taken seriously.

Although there was no police report made, the police should investigate the incident because they are an independent force that upholds peace, she added.

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