‘Covering up’ won’t prevent social ills

I am quite amused with Vizla Kumaresan’s letter to Malaysiakini – May 23, 08 4:18pm (http://www.malaysiakini.com/letters/83327) .

In that letter V Kumaresan said several things. These items or questions are clearly addressed to Munirah Bahari – the National Islamic Students Association of Malaysia vice-president. Perhaps it is appropriate to list them:

Firstly, I would like to say that rape is not about the clothes that women wear, nor is it about women’s behaviour, but is about power.

Secondly, by blaming incidences of rape on dressing and behaviour, Munirah Bahari is blaming women for rape.

Munirah also said in her statement that ‘covering up’ was important to prevent social ills. I would like to sadly draw her attention to incidences in the past where women wearing the tudung (or hijab, jilbab or veil) were brutally raped and murdered.

Now, there is one aspect of V Kumaresan letter which I think should be expanded. I have mentioned this issue over and over again. Namely that in a democracy one must respect individual rights. And indeed I have suggested Malaysia should draft and implement its own Bill of Rights… see this post – What About… A Bill of Human Rights?

And this is where the disaster or catastrophe becomes clearer. Actually this situation also happens in other countries. Browse this blog and you will find out that I have written about the situations where morality is used to justify censorship and freedom of expression.

Well I suppose the catastrophe that Malaysians are enduring now is the lack of individual rights. Individual rights seems to be relegated below ethnic, religious and societal priorities. Isn’t that a catastrophe?

And so to come to the letter ‘Covering up’ won’t prevent social ills. I might say that covering up only protects the social sensibilities of those social or moral leaders… and those that support them. It does not help the individual especially when people like Munirah Bahari is suggesting more “repression” of individual rights…

Perhaps the catastrophe here refers to people like Munirah.

Now, many more things needs to be said about this issue… In the next entry I would like express my opinion on this issue albeit in a more narrow manner.

However, in order for Readers to appreciate my point of view, I invite you all to read some of my previous entries on the issue of morality:

Morality, Social Values and Power in Society (1)

 Morality, Social Values and Power in Society (2)

Morality, Social Values and Power in Society (3)

Morality, Social Values and Power in Society (4)

Also read this:

 What are the Limits of Freedom of Expression? 

Indeed, morality is the fabric of society. It is said that morality is a collection of a society’s core values. Morality is a collection of a code of behavior. If someone breaks it (or part of it), by not observing or by contravening (going against it) then that person is weakening the social values.

Unfortunately, morality is also about power in society. This is because, the code of behavior (i.e. code of morality) is often designed and evolves around society’s established elite. It is seldom that ordinary people have a say in the design of any morality code. Of course, in some cases, the elites may have a power base derived from the grass-roots i.e. common people. But that does not mean that the voice of the common people are heard of or being considered upon. And things get worse if that society is not naturally democratic or if the ideas of democracy does not or is yet to take deep roots.

Anyway, do read the next entry –  ‘Covering up’ won’t prevent social ills especially when you cover up the “symptoms” !


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