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Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO) refers to news report “Snitch on Hubbies” (Malay Mail, 14 February 2003), where the Selangor Menteri Besar, Dr. Mord. Khir Toyo, and chief of Wanita MCA, Datuk Ng Yen Yen, encouraged women to “snitch on their husbands” by report to the police when they suspect their husband to have visited prostitutes.
We are pleased that both the Selangor Menteri Besar and the chief of Wanita MCA has brought to fore the issue of prostitution and trafficked women, which has largely remained as a hidden issue; and recognised the fact that women are lured into sex work.
However, Dr Mohd. Khir’s and Datuk Ng’s encouragement to wives to “snitch” on their husbands and report their dealings with prostitutes does not reflect the ethos of respect and trust that ideally should exist in relationships, and in fact may further propagate an environment of deep suspicion and schizophrenic relations. This will not cultivate healthy relationships where extra-marital affairs are never practiced, and therefore in effect, could be counter-productive to their efforts.
Also, wives who are in marriages where the husbands are not monogamous may not be in the position of power to be able to report such matters to the authorities. If they do so, they could be divorced, thrown out of the house or beaten. In this case, would the State be willing to provide the kind support that wives may need in order to report?
We urge the Menteri Besar to use the intimate information he appears to have to deal with the problem at its roots, and not push the burden to women yet again. We often read of cases where women are being deported for sex work, but rarely about the real culprits who are behind the issue. In WAO’s experience, women who have been trafficked are often tricked into believing that they are offered legitimate work in the country. Let’s place the blame where it really rests, on the shoulders of the pimps, agencies, brothel owners, customers and clients.