Malaysian lawmaker sorry for proposed ‘anti-seduction law’

Kuala Lumpur: A Malaysian lawmaker apologised Thursday after his proposal for legislation to protect men from being “seduced” by women into committing sex crimes such as rape sparked a storm of criticism.

Mohamad Imran Abdul Hamid, a senator from the country’s ruling coalition, made the comments during a debate in parliament’s upper house Wednesday.

“I propose… a sexual harassment act to protect men from the actions, words and clothing of women, which can cause men to be seduced to the point they can commit acts such as incest, rape, molestation, (watching) pornography,” he was cited as saying by local media.

“This is important, we (men) need to be protected. The actions, clothing of women can seduce us into breaking the law.”

The retired admiral’s remarks drew swift criticism from campaigners in the Muslim-majority country and the leader of his own People’s Justice Party, Anwar Ibrahim, called on him to retract them. Mohamad Imran apologised and withdrew his proposal: “Although my intention was sincere, I did not expect it to be perceived as a huge mistake that offended many women and men as well.”

Women’s rights campaigner Marina Mahathir was among those criticising his comments, saying they went “over the line”. “He’s giving excuses for men behaving badly,” the activist, who is also the daughter of Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, told AFP.

“It just points to the type of toxic environment that women in politics, and in other areas, have to live in.”

Women’s rights group Sisters in Islam tweeted that sex crimes were “despicable”, adding that “men must be held accountable if they commit these crimes, regardless of what women wear”.

It is not the first time the lawmaker has found himself in hot water — in 2015 he was criticised after warning in parliament against athletes dressing in a “sexy” fashion at sports events.