Malaysian authorities urge women to 'avoid nagging, wear makeup' during coronavirus lockdown

Malaysian authorities urge women to 'avoid nagging, wear makeup' during coronavirus lockdown
Malaysian social media has been abuzz with memes and videos mocking guidance from authorities on how women should behave during lockdown.
2 min read
31 March, 2020
The Malaysian women's ministry issued online posts with diagrams [Screenshot]

Malaysian authorities have advised women to wear make-up, not to nag their husbands and speak with a cartoon character's soothing voice during the virus lockdown, sparking a flood of mockery online.

Like many countries, the Southeast Asian nation has ordered all citizens to stay at home to stem the spread of the coronavirus, which has killed over 30,000 people globally.

In a series of Facebook posts, the Malaysian women's ministry offered tips for how wives should behave during the lockdown. 

One showed a picture of a couple hanging up clothes together next to a caption that advised women to "avoid nagging" their husbands, and to imitate the squeaky voice of Doraemon, a cartoon robot cat from Japan that is popular across Asia.

The post was removed Tuesday afternoon following a flood of criticism, with many accusing the government of sexism. 

Other posts advised women working at home to wear make-up and dress neatly, rather than in casual clothes.

"This must be a pressing issue," said one Facebook post. "How will dressing up and putting on make-up at home (prevent) COVID-19? Pray, tell?"

"It's already 2020, please progress. Focus on more important matters for women," read another.

Some Malaysian social media users compared the advice to that of the Obedient Wives Club (OWC), a controversial Southeast Asian Islamic group that sparked criticism and mockery when it advised that a woman must behave like a "first class prostitute" for her husband.

"How did we go from preventing baby dumping, fighting domestic violence to some sad variant of the Obedient Wives Club?" wrote one Twitter user.

The Obedient Wives Club (OWC), which had groups in Malaysia, Indonesia established in 2011 to promote harmonious marriages by teaching Muslim women how to "be submissive and keep their spouses happy in the bedroom".

Meanwhile, there have been fears of a surge in domestic violence worldwide, as the stress caused by confinement and job insecurity increase the likelihood of conflicts.  

A government run helpline for vulnerable people, including victims of domestic abuse, in Malaysia has seen an increase in calls of more than 50 percent since the start of the lockdown on March 18, local media reported.

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