A series of online posters with the hashtag #WomenPreventCOVID19 told residents how to behave while stuck at home — urging women to dress up nicely and wear makeup.
Wives were also told to avoid nagging their husbands — and to instead lighten the mood by mimicking the high-pitch voice of Doraemon, a blue anime robot cat popular across Asia.
Another poster depicts a man sitting on a sofa, telling women to refrain from being “sarcastic” if they need help with household chores.
The poster — uploaded on Facebook and Instagram — sparked outrage among women’s rights groups already alarmed at a domestic violence problem in the country.
“These posters promote the concept of gender inequality and perpetuate the concept of patriarchy,” Nisha Sabanayagam, a manager at All Women’s Action Society, said, calling them “extremely condescending.”
“How did we go from preventing baby dumping, fighting domestic violence to some sad variant of the Obedient Wives Club?” Twitter user @yinshaoloong wrote.
Malaysia’s women’s affairs ministry eventually apologized for the outrage sparked.
“We apologize if some of the tips we shared were inappropriate and touched on the sensitivities of some parties,” the ministry’s women development department said in a statement.
Women’s groups have warned lockdowns could see a rise in domestic violence, with women trapped with their abusers. Some governments have stepped up response, including in France which offers hotel rooms to victims.
Malaysia is ranked 104 out of 153 countries in the latest World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap index, after scoring poorly on political empowerment and economic participation.
With Post wires