A Malaysian female minister is facing severe backlash after she offered "tips" to husbands, including the advice to beat their wives "gently" to discipline them for "unruly" behavior. Siti Zailah Mohd Yusoff, the deputy minister for women, family and community development, has been accused of "normalizing" domestic violence by encouraging men to beat their spouses to show how strict he is and "how much he wants her to change."
Her insensitive advice has since outraged women's rights group who are demanding her to apologize and resign. Yusoff gave the advice in an Instagram video, which ahs since gone viral and is slammed by men and women alike.
In the two-minute-long Instagram video titled 'Mother's Tips.', Yusoff first recommended husbands to "discipline" their "stubborn" spouses by speaking to them They should sleep separately from them for three days if they do not adjust their behavior.
"However, if the wife still refuses to take the advice, or change her behavior after the sleeping separation, then the husbands can try the physical touch approach, by striking her gently, to show his strictness and how much he wants her to change," the deputy minister said in the video.
However, she didn't stop there. She also had a piece of advice for the women. In order to win over their partners, the deputy minister, who is also a member of Parliament for the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party, advised women to only speak to their husbands if they had permission.
Besides, Yusoff also recommended that women make sure their husbands had eaten, prayed and were in a good mood before approaching a difficult subject to ensure harmony at home. The videos have been viewed more than 16,000 times on Instagram and 12,000 times on Facebook.
"Speak to your husbands when they are calm, finished eating, have prayed and are relaxed,' Siti Zailah said. 'When we want to speak, ask for permission first."
Needless to say, the mister's comments have infuriated several women's rights groups who are now demanding her resignation. MP Hannah Yeoh, who served in the same post at the ministry until the Pakatan Harapan government fell in early 2020, asked Yusoff to explain what she meant.
"It's dangerous to make such a video â 'firm but gentle' is subjective. Just ask teams of doctors, activists and NGO that deal with domestic violence," said Yeoh, an MP from the opposition Democratic Action Party.
"The deputy minister must step down for normalizing domestic violence, which is a crime in Malaysia, as well as for perpetuating ideas and behaviors that are opposed to gender equality," Joint Action Group for Gender Equality, a coalition of women's rights groups, said in a joint statement.
The organization said that between 2020 and 2021, there were 9,015 police reports on domestic violence and those figures will in reality be higher as they do not include the women who have reported abuse to charities.
Another opposition lawmaker, Nurul Izzah Anwar of the People's Justice Party, also questioned the videos' content.
"The pandemic has only seen an increase in domestic violence, predominantly against women," she said on social media. "This so-called 'advice' by the deputy minister is a disservice and goes against current realities and needs."
However, this isn't the first time Yusoff has courted controversy. The deputy minister has been criticized in the past for her views, most recently in 2020 when she urged that women "accept, be patient, and forgive" their abusive relationships.