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Monday, March 20, 2017

The ineffectiveness of moral policing

The more we blame outside influences for the debauched behaviour in our country, the further we will be from realising that we, and only we are to blame.
COMMENT
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Alarm bells have once again been raised about the proliferation of debauched behaviour in the country. Temerloh MP, Nasrudin Hassan Tantawi, who is also PAS Information Head, highlighted the rampant depravity he claims is plaguing the nation and called for immediate intervention to stop us from slipping from the moral high-ground.
At first I thought the lawmaker was referring to the never-ending 1MDB debacle or perhaps even the many deaths in custody we continue to bear witness to, for surely those issues are about as immoral as it gets, but thankfully he had his priorities in the right order and was actually talking about something far more sinister and minatory in nature – music concerts.
Nasrudin is of the belief that music concerts promote a sinful lifestyle and that male and female concert-goers mingling too freely, is one of the chief contributing factors behind depraved activities all across the country.
I don’t know when Nasrudin last attended a concert in Malaysia, but let me tell you, from personal experience, after sitting for hours in a traffic jam in order to get to the stadium on time and then spending a few more hours trying to find a parking spot within the same postcode as the stadium, the last thing on one’s mind is randy behaviour. The only time I have ever witnessed lusty looks and passionate expressions exhibited at a concert were those directed towards the Ramly Burger kiosk.
How do music concerts result in pregnancies out of wedlock?
How Nasruddin connects the dots between music concerts and pregnancies out-of-wedlock, along with baby dumping, is really quite a mystery. People moving to a beat, singing along with a performer on the stage and having a friendly chat with others who may happen to possess a different set of genitalia to them, are not generally precursors to immoral conduct. In shocking contrast, these are actually very normal, human things to do.
Over half a million babies were born out of wedlock in the country in the last decade. Some of the mothers were as young as ten. Declaring a correlation between these statistics and music concerts is laughable at best and downright dangerous at worst.
In 2009, Nasrudin, led the calls for a Beyonce concert to be cancelled, stating that the singer’s gyrating moves and sexy outfits would erode the moral values of Malaysia’s young. Have we got so little faith in our teenagers and young adults? Have we got that weak a belief in the abilities of parents in this country to guide their children and teach them how to make the right choices? Have we got that much of a doubt in the quality of the moral and religious education our young are rigorously exposed to in schools?
We clearly must, for if certain quarters are of the belief that a skimpily dressed woman putting on a performance for an hour or two has the power and ability to corrupt our minds and skew our thoughts in a negative direction, then we obviously have far more serious problems to address than just our easily recalibrated moral compass.
Kelantan’s high incidence of rape and incest
In any case, despite PAS’ best efforts to set-up the state of Kelantan as a gleaming beacon of morality by banning concerts and performances, the unfortunate reality is that it is seemingly going in the opposite direction, with the state continually recording an increase in rape and incest cases. Perhaps if the Kelantanese had access to regular forms of entertainment, some may actually find a way to fill their free time with activities other than sexual offences and illicit sexual relations.
Despite its attempt to control and regulate the private lives of its population, the state has provided the backdrop to some of the most heinous sexual crimes committed in the country over the past few years.
In May 2014, a 15-year-old girl was gang-raped for hours, by a group of approximately 38 men, until she eventually lost consciousness. A man was sentenced just last month for raping his two under-age nieces in the state.
We’ve all heard about incidents where fathers have raped their own daughters, brothers raping their own sisters, not to mention the mother and son who were involved in an incestuous relationship. Kelantan also continues to record an increase in HIV infections and AIDS cases.
The folly of gender segregation and rejecting Western culture
No need for alarm though. The state has implemented separate check-out lines for men and women in supermarkets along with other segregative measures, so they are definitely heading in the right direction. Clearly.
If we cannot even trust both sexes to behave themselves whilst queueing up to pay for groceries in a public space, how on earth are we convincing ourselves that they will be compelled to do the right thing when they are not being watched?
Some of the other assertions that Nasruddin and his party have made in the past, are equally puzzling. A fervent anti-Valentine’s day campaigner from the time he was the PAS Youth Chief, the lawmaker advocates for Muslims not to recognise nor participate in the celebration of the occasion, as it apparently fuels immoral conduct such as pre-marital sex and adultery.
He has a valid point, really. Who on earth doesn’t get turned on by images of an overweight, rosy-cheeked, nappy-clad Cupid, not to mention exorbitantly priced flowers and ridiculously priced meals?
All of those things combined clearly make for a potent, lascivious mix, with the immense power to arouse and transform otherwise chaste, moral beings into highly-sexed creatures.
The other 364 days in a year pose no such threat. All babies born out of wedlock in the country can therefore be directly attributed to February 14 and the depraved activities committed on the day each year. St Valentine and Hallmark really have a lot to answer for.
Nasrudin is most certainly on the money when he opines that we are under siege from unacceptable behaviour and heading down a slippery slope, but it is not our morality that is being threatened as he mistakenly believes.
Time to be accountable for our own actions
A far bigger menace to our well-being as a society, is not the “loose behaviours”, nor the “loose women”, nor the evil Western culture. Rather it is the adamant refusal to accept that our problems stem precisely from our refusal to step up and take ownership of them in the first place.
We are accountable for all of the social ills we continue to witness. Not music concerts, not romantic celebrations, not women in skimpy clothes, nor provocative music and dancing. It is as simple as that.
We are responsible for the teen pregnancies, the babies being born out of wedlock, the ones who are subsequently killed or dumped, the sexual offences committed against women and children, the incest, the debauchery, the depravities, all of it.
The longer we continue to vehemently point our finger at the influence of “outsiders”, the further we will become removed from the fact that real change on these matters, these terrible matters, can only come from us.
Gayatri Unsworth is an FMT columnist.

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