The Joint Action Group for Gender Equality (JAG) condemns in the strongest terms the death threats made against Seri Delima Assemblyperson Syerleena Abdul Rashid.
JAG recalls similar threats made in the past, notably against former BERSIH 2.0 chair and current MP Maria Chin Abdullah, and MP Teresa Kok. We are concerned at the trend of heightening political violence, often cloaked in religious discourse, manifesting in threats of physical violence including murder and rape. In particular, individuals and groups have increasingly, and with seeming impunity, targeted women with rape threats over social media platforms. These include G25 spokesperson Datuk Noor Farida Ariffin, who received a rape threat over Facebook, and organisers and supporters of the Women’s March this year.
If not addressed, these threats affect not only the individuals targeted, they cast a chilling effect over the rest of society. Violence and threats of violence erode the very fundamentals of a functioning democracy, including freedom of belief and expression, right to bodily integrity, and civil discourse. These threats have no place in any society, what more at a time when Malaysia is rebuilding and strengthening its democratic institutions.
We note that the initial death threat against Syerleena Abdul Rashid was made based on a defamatory poster circulating on social media in 2017, and the second death threat was made upon her lodging a police report. These facts point to a need for early and urgent action on the part of the authorities to prevent an escalation of threats.
JAG calls on the police to thoroughly investigate the threats made against Syerleena Abdul Rashid, and take the necessary action. The police must assess the effectiveness of their actions and strategies, given the history of similar threats that have rarely resulted in prosecutions. We also call on religious leaders to condemn threats of violence that use religion as justification.
- Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO)
- All Women’s Action Society (AWAM)
- Association of Women Lawyers (AWL)
- Justice for Sisters
- Perak Women for Women (PWW)
- Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor (EMPOWER)
- Sabah Women’s Action-Resource Group (SAWO)
- Sisters in Islam (SIS)
- Women’s Centre for Change Penang (WCC)