Coronavirus: Malaysian government urges women to 'dress up and stop nagging husbands' during lockdown

Government propaganda posters urge women to keep putting on makeup during the lockdown

Malaysia’s government has drawn criticism for telling women to dress up at home and avoid nagging their husbands during the coronavirus lockdown.

Controversial posters circulated by the country’s women’s affairs ministry on Tuesday issued advice on how to avoid domestic conflicts during the partial lockdown, which began on 18 March.

One of the illustrations said women should refrain from being “sarcastic” if they need help with household chores.

Another told women to avoid “nagging” their husbands and attempt to inject humor by using a voice similar to the anime character Doraemon – a blue robot cat popular across Asia.

Firefighters spray disinfectant on a street during the lockdown in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. (Reuters)

The ministry also urged women to dress up and wear their make-up while working from home.

The posters immediately sparked a fierce backlash on Tuesday, with critics accusing the government of sexism and promoting gender stereotypes.

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“(It) is extremely condescending both to women and men,” said Nisha Sabanayagam, a manager at All Women’s Action Society, a Malaysian advocacy group.

“These posters promote the concept of gender inequality and perpetuate the concept of patriarchy,” she added.

The posters, uploaded on Facebook and Instagram, drew widespread ridicule online with social media users urging the government to remove them.

The Malaysian government has not yet commented on the controversial advice, although many of the original social media posts have now been taken down.

Women’s groups across the world have warned lockdowns could see a rise in domestic violence, with women trapped with their abusers.

Some governments have stepped up in response, including in France which offers hotel rooms to victims.

Malaysia is ranked 104 out of 153 countries in the latest World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap index, after scoring poorly on political empowerment and economic participation.

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