Tuesday 9 October 2012

'Women's minister Najib must solve Penan rape plight'

  • Nigel Aw
  • 6:16PM Oct 9, 2012
Premier Najib Abdul Razak should live up to his position as acting women, family and community development minister by addressing the long overdue issue of rape against Penan women, Zuraida Kamaruddin (PKR-Ampang) told Parliament this evening.

Pointing out that this was the first time a man was helming the Women’s Ministry, Zuraida (right) said the people expected something different.

“What is the government’s action against the offenders who raped Penan women in Sarawak as reported in by the Rights of Penan Women Taskforce?

“Seeing that the Women’s Ministry has been taken over by a man, I urge the prime minister to investigate this matter and bring the offenders to justice,” she said during the budget debate session.

Zuraida said that this matter had first came to light under former women’s minister Shahrizat Abdul Jalil but still remains unresolved.

“The report was prepared by the Women’s Ministry but yet no action had been taken. I demand the prime minister, who is also the finance and women’s minister, to have the political will to solving the issue of Penan women,” she said.

Earlier, Zuraida had complained that the premier was neglecting the Women’s Ministry by refusing to appoint a full-time minister after he took over as acting women’s minister in April.

The Women’s ministry had exactly four years ago, on Oct 8, 2008 commissioned a national task force to investigate allegations of widespread rape against Penan women in Sarawak.

The task force’s report, made public on Sept 8, 2009 confirmed that Penan girls - as young as 10 years old - and women were sexually abused by logging camp workers in Baram, Sarawak.

Fiery defence for Najib

Later, Halimah Mohd Sadique (BN-Tenggara) in a fiery speech leaped to Najib’s defence during her turn to debate.

“What is so unusual (for the Najib to be women’s minister)? Why are you worried as if women’s rights would not be defended?

“A man is part of the family’s head, a man is a husband, father and strong supporter of a woman as a mother and wife,” she said.

She added that people should be happy that it was no ordinary person who filled the women’s minister position but the premier himself.

DAP Wanita chief Chong Eng, who is also Bukit Mertajam MP, had in a statement last week called on the premier to relinquish his position as acting women’s minister and proposed, among others, Halimah as a replacement.

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