Activists demand Thaipusam police kiosks after spray-paint threat

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 12 — A group of activists has urged the police to guarantee the safety of women during Thaipusam, following a Facebook group’s threat to spray-paint those who dress “inappropriately”.

In an online petition to Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar, the five women behind it said special police kiosks should be placed at all locations of the festival, in addition to an investigation against the individuals who made the threat.

Over 100 people have signed the petition at the time of writing. The organisers expect at least 200 signatures to complete the petition.

“What will the police, temple authorities, Hindu Sangam, Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission and Facebook do? Ideally, an investigation should be conducted and the perpetrators brought to book.

“We demand special measures such as police managed kiosks made available in all locations of the festivities to handle reports of harassment of any kind targeting women and increased personnel to deal the with potential acts of violence against women,” said the petition on independent community petition platform Avaaz.org.

The organisers of the petition included Empower president Janarthani Arumugam and Penang Women’s Development Corporation’s Rubini Maheswaran.

“Shame on the authorities if they fail to make it safe for women to fulfil their religious aspirations, to claim public spaces, to protect women online by allowing sexism to manifest and fester at the expense of the rights of women.

“We decry this injustice and demand that immediate actions are taken to ensure the safety of women in public, private and cyber spaces,” the petition added.

A public Facebook group called “Thaipusam Spraying Group” was recently created by one “Henry Barnabas”, with more than 350 members at the time of writing.

It has threatened to spray-paint the bodies of Hindu women who dress “inappropriately” during the Thaipusam festival next month.

Selangor police chief Comm Datuk Abdul Samah Mat has since announced on Monday that the police are trying to track down those responsible for the group.

Abdul Samah also assured the public that the police will maintain security during the festival, celebrated with processions towards temples such as in Batu Caves and George Town.

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