A Malaysian politician has prompted fury by suggesting that women withholding sex from their husbands or nagging them is a form of “emotional and psychological abuse”.
Che Mohamad Zulkifly Jusoh, 58, a member of the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition, made the comments during a debate on domestic violence in the national parliament.
Malaysia is currently reviewing laws existing laws on domestic abuse, which rights activists hope will offer more protection to women.
However, Mr Che argued that men suffered more than women in married relationships as they were not subjected to mere physical abuse.
“Men are generally physically stronger than women so they are subjected to emotional and psychological abuse, which is even worse. This includes having a wife who denies conjugal rights to her husband or one who constantly nags,” he said.
The politician proceeded to link the debate to Malaysia’s controversial polygamy laws, which allow Muslim men to have as many as four wives as long as they clear the next marriage with a Sharia court.
“Some [men] want to marry more than one but need to get permission from their wives, who disagree and begin nagging,” he said.
Mr Che’s remarks prompted sniggers in the House, according to one local media report. But he also drew strong public criticism, including from high profile women’s rights activists like Marina Mahathir, daughter of former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamed.
“This is an old notion, that when you marry a woman you own her body. It does not work that way, she told AFP. “Women have a right to say no to sex. It is ridiculous to say men are abused if women say no.”
Ms Mahathir posted the news on her Facebook page, adding the comment: “Hmmm…and yet we let men rule countries?”
The post generated many outraged comments from angry citizens.
“The MP blatantly stated wife is a sex object!” said one male commentator.
“Marriage doesn’t mean we are slaves to anyone or anything,” argued one woman.
Others said that they were “disgusted” and asked for a vomit emoticon.