Malaysian health authorities have issued a coronavirus lockdown advisory for wives, urging them not to “nag” their husbands and instead be “feminine.” The advice was deemed to be highly sexist and attracted a storm of criticism.
The ministry shared its wisdom on social media, releasing an infographic on how to act ‘properly’ during isolation. One image provides an insight for wives on how to do house chores while being stuck inside with their spouses.
As domestic violence cases surge the world over during #Covid19#stayathome measures, Malaysia’s Women, Family & Community Development Ministry shares guidelines on avoiding arguments at home including• don’t nag • be “humorous”• mimic the tone of cartoon character Doraemon pic.twitter.com/GUJZji1ct8
— Sumisha Naidu (@sumishanaidu) March 31, 2020
“If you see your husband carry out a task in a manner that clashes with your own method, avoid nagging,” the image reads. Apart from that, women should “mimic the tone of Doraemon” – a robotic cat from a popular Japanese manga – and reinforce their statements with a coy and “feminine” laugh.
In a separate graphic, the ministry also advised women to refrain from making “sarcastic” comments if their spouses are not helping with household tasks.
The advisory promptly went viral and triggered a storm of criticism, with many attacking the graphics as ultimately sexist and dehumanizing.
Others said the ministry should actually teach men not to engage in domestic violence instead of lecturing women on how to pacify their spouses.
Some took a more light-hearted stance, pointing out that the advisory doesn’t make any sense since Doraemon, is actually a male robotic cat, while others suggested it might be a bad April Fools’ joke released too early.
Following the outrage, the offensive imagery vanished from the ministry’s social media. Later on Tuesday, the ministry issued a brief apology for the advisory.
“We apologize if some of the tips we shared were inappropriate and touched on the sensitivities of some parties,” the ministry’s Women Development Department said in a statement.
Earlier pieces of ‘advice’ for women, however, remain readily available. On Friday, for instance, the health authority told women to avoid wearing “home clothes,” as well as to keep the dining table, kitchen and living room clean and neat during the lockdown.
“Present yourself as per usual, wear makeup and dress neatly,” the graphic reads.
Malaysia’s standing movement control order, introduced to contain the Covid-19 outbreak, was extended until April 14 last week. The country has been affected by the pandemic relatively moderately so far with some 2,700 confirmed cases and over 40 deaths.
Worldwide, the coronavirus infection tally has already smashed past the 800,000 mark, while nearly 39,000 people have died from the disease.
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