Bukit Bendera MP highlights patriarchal values in gymnast attire scrutiny

09 Oct 2023 07:51pm
Bukit Bendera MP Syerleena Abdul Rashid - FILE PIX
Bukit Bendera MP Syerleena Abdul Rashid - FILE PIX

SHAH ALAM - The recent incident involving Muslim women gymnasts in Terengganu, and the continuous appointment of men to oversee women's affairs in an all-male Pas state government highlights the need for more female voices at decision-making levels in Malaysia.

According to Bukit Bendera Member of Parliament (MP) Syerleena Abdul Rashid, the matter was of profound concern,as the situation raises significant questions about the fairness and effectiveness of policies that impact women's rights, particularly when it comes to issues such as dress codes and personal freedom.

"For the sixth consecutive year, the appointment of a man to oversee women's affairs in Pas-led Terengganu is perplexing and disheartening.

"This sends a clear message that women's perspectives and concerns are not prioritised, raising questions about the legitimacy of policies affecting them," Syerleena said in a statement.

Syerleena said the implications of this situation in Terengganu, where female role models are notably absent, are substantial.

She added that young girls, in particular, lack prominent female figures to look up to, potentially reinforcing stereotypes and limiting their aspirations.

The absence of such role models can have far-reaching consequences for the aspirations and self-esteem of these young girls.

"It's concerning that female athletes pursuing their dreams face backlash and derogatory comments.

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"This incident should prompt society to be more accepting and respectful of individual choices.

"Terengganu and Malaysia as a whole must reconsider their approach to women's affairs and leadership.

"Female role models are essential for inspiring confidence, ambition, and challenging societal norms." she said in the statement.

Syerleena said that representation matters,and having more women in political leadership positions can shape policies promoting gender equality and individual freedoms.

"Malaysia must stand united to advocate for increased representation, empowering the next generation to break barriers," she said

Since 2019, Terengganu has banned female gymnasts from participating in Sukma, citing concerns about their attire not adhering to Syariah standards. The disproportionate emphasis on clothing choices unmistakably exhibits patriarchal and misogynistic values, a deeply disturbing trend that must be called out and confronted.

"Women must possess an equal say in crafting policies that impact a nation. Actively promoting and appointing more women to decision-making roles is not just a matter of equality but simply a statement of commitment to progress," Syerleena added.

Earlier this week, Terengganu Youth, Sports, and NGO Development Exco Hishamuddin Karim had said that the enforcement of syariah-compliant sports attire guidelines for state athletes is limited by international sports regulations.

He said while the state government introduced guidelines in 2020, they must adjust the concept of syariah compliance to align with international sports rules, focusing on education and gradual change.

Terengganu will not participate in certain events like gymnastics at the 2024 Malaysia Games (Sukma) due to clothing concerns, but these guidelines apply only to Muslim athletes, not non-Muslims.

The mufti and a religious officer are involved in monitoring and advising on religious matters for athletes within the Terengganu State Sports Council (MSNT).