Misogynistic remarks and behaviour from MPs that were derogatory towards women at recent sittings of the People’s Majlis are “unacceptable,” the human rights watchdog has said, urging lawmakers not to undermine national efforts for women’s empowerment.
The Human Rights Commission of Maldives issued a statement yesterday expressing concern with behaviour inside the parliament chamber that “demeans the honour and dignity of women”.
“While efforts have been undertaken in light of conventions that the Maldives is party to as well as the Maldivian constitution to empower women and especially increase women’s participation in the political arena, the increase of such undesirable actions casts a shadow and weakens these efforts, and the commission believes, could pose challenges for women entering the political arena,” the commission said.
The HRCM statement follows a ruling party MP calling his female colleagues “screaming crows” during a debate Monday on reserving seats for women in local councils.
Riyaz Rasheed, deputy parliamentary group leader of the Progressive Party of Maldives, labelled female MPs of the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party as “shameless” and claimed that women are the leading cause of heart attacks and strokes.
PPM MP Ahmed ‘Redwave’ Saleem said women drive men to mental illnesses and crime because of their infidelity. Women are fragile like glass, he added.
Majority Leader Ahmed Nihan had meanwhile spat on MP Rozaina Adam’s face last month during a heated exchange over corruption allegations.
“The commission is concerned that the actions of some MPs are at a level such that parents cannot watch [televised parliament sittings] with their children,” the HRCM statement continued.
Differences of opinion should not lead to verbal abuse, defamatory remarks, and “disagreements in some cases paving the way for assault,” the commission advised.
Former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom – leader of the PPM – meanwhile sought to defend the ruling party yesterday in the wake of outrage and criticism over sexist and misogynistic remarks from the party’s senior parliamentarians.
“The PPM is a party that follows strong, proper democratic principles and protects the rights of both genders,” he said in a tweet.