[Watch] NGO Explains How Malaysian Women Are Being Discriminated & Ignored By Doctors
Most of these discriminations stem from taking away the woman’s body autonomy and placing it on others to make a decision for her.
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The All Women’s Action Society (AWAM) shared a video explaining how women are discriminated against in the health and medical industry due to outdated and sexist beliefs.
The Health Ministry (KKM) encourages all women, especially those who are sexually active, to take the pap smear test.
“Sebab dara pun boleh kena diskriminasi ke? Yeye je..” yes! It happens to so many Malaysian women! “Dara” and “suami” should not stop medical practitioners from prioritising patients! pic.twitter.com/SxoYVBnWum— All Women’s Action Society (AWAM) (@AWAMMalaysia) December 13, 2021
A pap smear test is important because it helps to check for cervical cancer.
The screening test is done by inserting a small brush to gently swab for cells from the surface of the cervix and the area around it.
However, AWAM claims that most doctors or nurses won’t perform this important test on women who are seen as virgins or who have not had sex or are not married yet.
This is because many people in Malaysia still believe in the outdated idea that the hymen must be protected to protect virginity.
The second example of how women are discriminated against is when it comes to making a decision to sterilise themselves.
It’s claimed that if a woman wants to undergo the sterilisation procedure, they have to ask for signed permission from their husband although the body belongs to the woman and not the man.
However, if a man goes through a similar procedure, they don’t need anyone’s permission, even from their wife.
If the woman insists on going through the procedure, they’ll be hounded by questions from others such as ‘What if your husband wants a child?’ or assuming the woman will regret her choice later.
This shows that women’s health and needs are not important and always secondary to what society needs from them.
The bottom line is preventing women from going through these important health procedures based on these false beliefs are against medical ethics and it’ll harm all women.
A netizen pointed how some doctors refuse to do a vaginal swab although they complained about abnormal vaginal discharge just because they aren’t married.
They only managed to get it checked after going to a private clinic.
Not to mention how they don’t even bother to take a look or do a swab when you complain about your abnormal vaginal discharge just bcs you’re not married. RIP all the school girls with yeast infection.— Ilyanie (@illiots_) December 14, 2021
Another netizen shared the treatment she received when she went for a family planning consultation.
Luckily, she found a doctor who understood and helped her.
Tapi nasib baik jumpa the right doctor. She was surprised but she didnt lecture me. Instead dia cakap bagus awak buat mcm ni. Ni first time saya jumpa kes camni haha selalunya yg dtg jumpa saya nangis nangis taknak baby tapi dah pregnant— Rabiatul. (@rabiatul_h) December 14, 2021
Does the hymen really prove virginity?
The truth is, virginity is a social construct and that means it’s an idea created by society.
It simply does not exist and to continue to uphold that belief is damaging to both genders.
The idea of a woman’s purity is also an idea made to police women’s bodies. People do not lose anything when they have sex or after sex.
An ‘intact’ hymen proving virginity is another myth and social construct that’s often used to discriminate women.
There’s no way of telling if a woman is a virgin just by looking at the genitals and the hymen.
This is because different women have different hymens. According to the Center for Young Women’s Health, the hymen only ‘breaks’ if there’s a serious injury and it stretches during sex.
Hopefully, these old and harmful beliefs will be put to rest so all women’s health can be prioritised properly.
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