Human rights Lifestyle

These Malaysian women created their own “court” to fairly judge women’s issues.

Let’s just be real here: Malaysia hasn’t exactly been doing so well in terms of our human rights.

First of all, our country’s world report for 2021 on the Human Rights Watch website isn’t looking too good. And even though there’s been much effort put in place to “spread more awareness” on the human rights issues here in Malaysia, it doesn’t seem like anyone’s really listening; case in point, there was that citizenship law that prevented Malaysian mothers from automatically passing on their citizenships to their children born abroad.

On that note, this really brings up the topic of how women are treated in Malaysia. With 50% of Malaysian women going through workplace discrimination and sexual harassment being something that one third of our women face, this shows that there isn’t very much being done legally to protect our women, and these are matters that need to be addressed.

With that same thought in mind, several women from The Joint Action Group for Gender Equality (JAG) and Engender Consultancy have come together to create a new and “reimagined” form of justice in the form of a tribunal, which will provide women with a safe space to tell their stories, as an alternative way of seeking justice through fair “judgement”.

 

Women’s Tribunals have existed for years as an alternate form of justice.

The women who gave their testimonies at The Women’s International War Crimes Tribunal. Sourced from APJJF.

We’re gonna bring back some sejarah for this part, but stay with us, k?

During the Japanese Occupation in World War II, there were horrendous amounts of war crimes that were committed by the Japanese Empire. One of which was comfort women, which were women and girls who were forced into sexual slavery by the Imperial Japanese Army during that period of time. And while there were efforts being made to resolve the pain and suffering that was caused to these women, justice wasn’t fully served.

Therefore, in December 2000, the Women’s International War Crimes Tribunal on Japan’s Military Sexual Slavery took place in Tokyo, where testimonies from surviving comfort women and victims of sexual assault caused by the Japanese Military were gathered and presented to the public. The proceedings were done in the form of tribunal as it was a less formal alternative to the conventional courtroom that didn’t necessarily require any form of legal jurisdiction for its creation.

However, despite not being able to make much of a change legally, it did raise much awareness on the atrocities and violence that were committed towards these women, leaving a legacy that not only changed things for the women of the Tokyo tribunal, but also gave way to the creation of more women’s tribunals worldwide.

 

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Now it’s being held in Malaysia… and for good reason.

Here’s a little not-so-fun fact: In 2020, Malaysia was ranked 104th globally in the Gender Gap Index, with our gender gap score at 0.677 percent. Since then, our scores have actually worsened, with Malaysia dropping to 112th place globally in 2021, with a score of 0.676 percent. One of the lowest in South-East Asia.

Unedited pictures from Gender Gap Index 2020 and 2021.

And with our country’s gender gap score declining, the tribunal was created as a way to hold the government accountable, and to assess how much progress (or lack thereof) our country has made towards fulfilling the promise of women’s rights.

The tribunal will include the testimonies of 15 – 20 women who have been affected by some form of gender-based discrimination, whether it’s through contexts such as health, economic, education, violence, legal frameworks and more.

These testimonies will then be heard by a panel of judges, who would “make a judgement” in terms of what needs to be done to achieve justice and gender equality.

These findings and recommendations will then be presented publicly and sent to the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development along with other relevant government agencies, for further discussion (and hopefully, action).

 

 

And all you’ve gotta do is show up!

listen to tyjo. GIF from Tenor.

The Women’s Tribunal wants to make a difference by drawing attention and raising awareness on the gaps in our system… but they can’t do it without much-needed support from the public.

Here’s where you come in:

The organizations behind the Women’s Tribunal are calling for all members of the public to join in the event by tuning into the tribunal hearings which will be held virtually via Zoom and Facebook Live on the 27th and 28th of November this year, with the “findings” of the judges being publicly presented on the 4th of December.

You can find more information about the Women’s Tribunal and register for the event via their website.

And you can also check out the Kebahagiaan Dirimu Arts Festival which will be held on the 29th of November, for a more creative expression of these important topics. We also heard that there’ll be prizes for those who register for the Arts Festival, so do keep an eye out for that too! *wink wink*

 

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