The World Health Organization (WHO) expects COVID-19 cases and deaths in Malaysia to peak in mid-April as there are some signs of curve flattening. There are 3,116 confirmed cases and 50 deaths in the Southeast Asian country, by far, the most in the region. The country has imposed a travel ban, along with an extension of a nationwide lockdown through April 14.
During nationwide lockdowns, many countries around the world have put their unique spin on it. For example, Panama, on Wednesday, said men and women will only be allowed to leave their homes for two hours at a time, and on different days.
As for Malaysia, the Ministry for Women, Family and Community Development has requested that women do not nag their husbands during the lockdown, reported NPR.
The ministry advised women from being "sarcastic" if their husbands asked them to help out with household chores. The request urged women to look pretty for their spouses, by dressing up and wearing makeup.
The Malaysian All Women's Action Society called the ministry's campaign sexist and said they should focus on preventing domestic violence during these unprecedented times.
While dressing up to work is one way of maintaining discipline and a routine while working from home, the focus on LOOKS, DRESS, and MAKEUP is absolutely unnecessary.— All Women’s Action Society (@AWAMMalaysia) March 31, 2020
Stop this sexist messaging @KPWKM and focus on #domesticviolence survivors who are at higher risk now! https://t.co/mU7nBqbkgk
Women's Development Department director-general Akhma Hassan said the message is to spread positivity during the lockdowns, according to state-run news agency Bernama.
"The approach used was to share methods and practices to maintain positive relationships within the family and during the phase of working from home," Hassan said in a statement.
"We have taken note of numerous comments on some tips for women, which were promoted through posters via our social media accounts.
Here's how some on social media reacted to the ministry's request:
"Avoid wearing home clothes. Dress up as usual, put on makeup and dress neatly. OMG! This is what Rina, our Minister of Women, Family & Community Development thinks is important during the #COVID19 lockdown?" tweeted @honeyean.
"How did we go from preventing baby dumping, fighting domestic violence to some variant of the Obedient Wives Club?" wrote @yinshaoloong.
The Malaysian government should shift its attention to an imminent recession that could result in 2.4 million job losses and a spike in domestic violence cases.
We’ve been noting over the last several weeks that the evolution of the virus crisis will crack households across the world, lead to surging domestic violence cases, and possibly social unrest will follow.